Prosecutors end Siegelman, Scrushy sentence appeal
Associated Press Writer
Federal prosecutors are no longer seeking stiffer prison sentences for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, but have not said why.
Prosecutors filed a motion this week with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that their appeals of the sentences be dropped. Their appeals had called for a longer prison term than Siegelman's more than seven-year sentence and Scrushy's almost seven-year sentence .
The latest filing does not spell out why prosecutors want to drop their appeals. It just says "the government has elected not to proceed with its cross-appeal as to either defendant."
Prosecutors originally asked that Siegelman be sentenced to 30 years in federal prison and Scrushy to 25 years.
"That's one more thing that's not hanging over Richard Scrushy," his attorney, Art Leach, said Wednesday.
Siegelman's chief attorney, Vince Kilborn, said he believes prosecutors realized it would be difficult to justify such stiff terms, which he said would have amounted to death sentences for the 62-year-old Siegelman and 55-year-old Scrushy.
"To write an appeal to justify that sentence would take someone with the creative writing ability of John Grisham," Kilborn said.
Kilborn said the former governor was "ecstatic" when he heard the government had dropped the appeal of his sentence. Siegelman declined to comment Wednesday and referred questions to Kilborn.
Chief prosecutor Louis Franklin did not immediately return calls.
Siegelman and Scrushy are currently in the process of appealing their sentences.
University of Alabama political scientist Bill Stewart, who has followed the case closely, said he believes prosecutors want to concentrate now on defending the convictions and that appealing the sentence might "muddy the waters."
Siegelman and Scrushy have both filed lengthy appeal briefs, urging the appellate court to throw out their convictions or order a new trial.
Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in 2006 of bribery and other charges in a government corruption case. Prosecutors argued that Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a key hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery.
Siegelman and Scrushy were sentenced last June. At the end of the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller ordered them taken into custody immediately as attorneys for both men were asking that they be released on an appeal bond.
Siegelman served nine months of his sentence before the 11th Circuit ordered him released from a Louisiana federal prison on an appeal bond in March. Scrushy, viewed by the court as a flight risk, is still being held in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas.
At the time of the sentencing, prosecutors filed a motion asking for stiffer prison terms. In the written motion, prosecutors said that "Siegelman's conduct was part of a pervasive corruption of a government function, process, or office that may cause loss of public confidence in government."
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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