Class-action attorney Richard Scruggs was well-known for his litigation against the tobacco industry, HMOs, State Farm Insurance and many others.  On June 27, 2008, he was however, sentenced to five years of prison for conspiring to pay a $50,000 bribe to Mississippi Judge Henry L. Lackey of the Third Circuit Judicial District Court in Lafayette County.  Mr. Scruggs had used attorney Timothy Balducci, as his nominee, (i.e. representative), to transfer bribe monies to Judge Lackey.  By using a nominee to transfer his bribe, Mr. Scruggs had disguised the fact that he was the source of the bribe.

Another example of how nominees are sometimes used to transfer money in judicial bribery schemes, was provided at my post  "Using Multiple Jurisdictions To Launder Money".  As that post explained, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amended complaint alleging that Ms. Primarosa Battistella had used Swiss bank accounts and three lawyers to transfer bribe monies to judges in Italy.  According to the amended complaint at paragraphs "16" – "18", the three lawyers had essentially acted as nominees who transferred the bribes.

Mr. Scruggs and Ms. Battistella both remind me of a former client who had been a suspected member of organized crime and was indicted for tampering with a witness.  At that time, the client’s relative approached me in the hallway of my office and said:  "Would it help the case if  the judge was given a cash payment?".  Disgusted, I abruptly walked away.

Copyright 2008 Fred L. Abrams