ABERDEEN – Former Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter told a federal court today he lied about improper talks with his old boss, Ed Peters, who was trying to help Richard “Dickie” Scruggs with a lawsuit against him.
The 55-year-old jurist, best known for winning a conviction in the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, stood before Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson and said, “AS to count five guilty your honor.”
DeLaughter and Scruggs were indicted Jan. 1 on four counts they conspired to defraud the U.S. of DeLaughter’s good services as a judge and to mail fraud from sending documents related to the lawsuit, Wilson v. Scruggs. DeLaughter pleaded guilty today to a fifth count of lying to FBI investigators.
Prosecutors dismissed charges of conspiracy and mail fraud.
Sentencing will not occur for a couple of months while the U.S. Probation Service compiles a pre-sentence report for Davidson to consider.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 18 months. The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
In a separate deal Feb. 10, Scruggs pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe DeLaughter by exploiting the judge’s desire for a federal bench seat.
Scruggs reportedly asked his brother-in-law, then-Sen. Trent Lott, to recommend DeLaughter for an open sat on the Southern District court. Lott maintains he never did more than make a courtesy call to DeLaughter about his possible candidacy for the post.
Scruggs had time added to the sentence he is serving for his 2008 guilty plea in the scheme to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City. He and others have been helping the government develop its case.
Peters apparently got a deal to avoid prosecution, if he cooperated with the investigation.
Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint someone to serve out the rest of DeLaughter’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2010. DeLaughter had previously resigned.
For more read Friday’s Daily Journal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Patsy R. Brumfied/NEMS Daily Journal