By The Associated Press
The go-between in a judicial bribery case that brought down some of the most prominent attorneys in Mississippi has been put on home detention, a prison official said Saturday.
Former attorney Timothy Balducci, 42, was transferred late Friday from the federal prison at Estill, S.C., where he had been serving a 2-year sentence, to his home at New Albany, said D. Brown, a senior officer specialist at the prison.
The Daily Journal reported Friday on NEMS360.com that Balducci had been released, but the report was not confirmed by prison officials.
Balducci was trying to influence a judge in a legal dispute between lawyers who were fighting over $26 million in legal fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina cases.
Balducci delivered $40,000 in cash installments to Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City, who was cooperating with an FBI investigation.
After Balducci’s 2007 arrest the day he completed the payoff to Lackey, he began cooperating with authorities.
Balducci wore a recording device to the office of attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, the chief architect of the landmark tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s.
His cooperation led to arrests and guilty pleas from Scruggs, his son Zach, one of their law partners and Balducci’s partner and former State Auditor Steve Patterson.
The investigation into Scruggs’ dealings led to a conviction of former Hinds County Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who, as a state prosecutor, obtained a murder conviction in 1994 against white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 killing of civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
DeLaughter is serving an 18-month federal sentence after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. He admitted lying to an FBI agent during the judicial corruption investigation.