Tort King's Path to Bribery Charge

Scruggs Has History
Of Spats Over Fees;
$50 Million Adviser

March 14, 2008

  Last November, a lawyer who was working with famed plaintiffs' attorney Richard Scruggs entered the chambers of a local Mississippi judge and delivered the last chunk of a $40,000 cash payment. In return, the judge said he would issue a ruling favorable to Mr. Scruggs in a fee dispute with other lawyers.

  Driving away after delivering the cash, the lawyer was pulled over by federal agents and confronted with videos of his visits. He soon agreed to wear a wire. Within a month, a federal grand jury had charged Mr. Scruggs, the architect of landmark litigation against cigarette makers, with conspiracy to bribe a state official.

  Mr. Scruggs helped revolutionize American tort law starting in the 1980s and '90s. Pursuing not one client at a time but thousands, he and a handful of other enterprising lawyers from around the country assembled teams of attorneys to round up throngs of plaintiffs, then took on big companies from industries like tobacco, construction and pharmaceuticals. In the largest score, a Scruggs team wrested $206 billion from cigarette makers in 1998 on behalf of 46 states -- the subject of a movie, "The Insider," whose sets included Mr. Scruggs's beachfront mansion.

  He thus has been a seminal player in the concept that where government fails to protect the public from businesses that pose risks to the public or workers, private litigation can step in. Now, a trial set to begin this month threatens the career of one of the most powerful and feared forces in product-liability litigation.

  To many legal observers, the indictment raises a hard question: What could lead a lawyer who once earned nearly $1 billion on a single case, the tobacco litigation, to bribe a judge over a matter of a few million dollars?

  The answer is simple -- he didn't -- says Mr. Scruggs's lawyer, John Keker. He says prosecutors have concocted a "manufactured crime" in which his client had no part. Whether that's so will be up to a jury to be empaneled starting March 31 in federal court in Oxford, Miss. In the meantime, a close look at Mr. Scruggs's career and methods offers clues to how this legendary lawyer got into a fix that puts his very freedom in jeopardy. Mr. Scruggs declined to be interviewed.

  Mr. Scruggs is known for surrounding himself with layers of other attorneys, as well as for having unorthodox relationships with well-paid intermediaries to broker political or legal arrangements. He also has a history of fights over how to divide legal fees after a big victory. The suit leading to the indictment was such a case. Among lawyers who felt shortchanged was Steve Funderburg.

  "I have looked in the mirror all weekend and tried to figure out how I could be so stupid," Mr. Funderburg emailed Mr. Scruggs in March last year. Citing a law partner, he said: "John and I DEFENDED you in fee dispute litigation for God's sake. We DEFENDED you when people said you were greedy, or were a back stabber or were a liar."


 Read the legal documents behind the case and transcripts of various wiretapped conversations:

  • Timothy R. Balducci to Henry Lackey: -- "Listen, I was just calling to uh… ask you, you know, uh… I was gonna get those sweet potatoes delivered to my friend down there…". Transcript.

  • "Not only did the government pursue [attorney Timothy R.] Balducci to the point of manufacturing a crime for him, but it also engaged in a pattern of concealing from this Court the excessive government involvement in the alleged crime." Defendants' motion to dismiss the indictment due to government's "outrageous conduct" in investigation.

  • "Defendants allege that the government has consciously engaged in a pattern of deception and concealment, deceiving the Court and in effect obstructing the due administration of justice. It should come as no surprise that the government takes exception to those allegations." Government's response to Scruggs et al.'s motion.

  Mr. Scruggs replied thanking Mr. Funderburg for his work but adding: "It is now in the best interests of all, and of success for the clients, that [we] move on without you."

  Mr. Scruggs, a slender 61-year-old known as "Dickie" with a wide, disarming smile, is regarded as generous with his friends and his community. He has lavished special attention on his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, where a campus hall bears his name.

  Besides deep pockets he has deep connections. His wife is a sister of the wife of Trent Lott, the former Senate Majority Leader, a tie that has brought him entree to Republican circles despite his own support of Democratic candidates.

  Reared on Mississippi's steamy Gulf Coast, Mr. Scruggs graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1969, spent five years as a Navy fighter pilot, then returned to Ole Miss to study law. After practicing for a while in Jackson, he set up his own firm in Pascagoula, near where he grew up.

First, Asbestos

  There, he specialized in suing companies that had made products containing asbestos. He and another local attorney, William Roberts Wilson Jr., pooled their cases and assembled thousands of plaintiffs.

  When a law-school classmate, Mike Moore, became state attorney general, he engaged Mr. Scruggs to sue users of asbestos on the state's behalf. Mr. Scruggs argued successfully that companies should pay to remove the material from public buildings. Hired for a share of recoveries won, Mr. Scruggs made about $5 million, say attorneys familiar with the settlements.

  To help manage his private asbestos cases, Mr. Scruggs hired a young lawyer named Alwyn Luckey. But in 1993, as many of the cases were paying off, Mr. Scruggs fired Mr. Luckey and refused to pay him. Mr. Luckey sued Mr. Scruggs seeking his fee.

  Soon the other partner in the asbestos-litigation venture, Mr. Wilson, also sued Mr. Scruggs, contending he unfairly hoarded the legal fees.

  Around this time, another law-school classmate, Michael T. Lewis, says he gave Mr. Scruggs the idea that ultimately made him rich and famous: demanding that tobacco companies repay states for their Medicaid costs in caring for people sickened by smoking.

  Mr. Scruggs was intrigued, but had drawn criticism over his asbestos litigation for the state. Detractors called it a gravy train for the attorney general's favored lawyers, who repaid the favor with campaign donations.

  So Mr. Scruggs turned to another political pal: Pete Johnson, who says Mr. Scruggs asked him to help push through legislation clearly authorizing the attorney general to farm out lawsuits to private lawyers. Mr. Johnson, a former state auditor, says that at an airport restaurant in March 1994, Mr. Scruggs promised him 10% of his legal fees from the tobacco case if the bill passed and the litigation was successful.

  With Mr. Johnson navigating behind the scenes, the bill passed. But after the tobacco settlement brought Mr. Scruggs nearly a billion dollars in legal fees, he said "he didn't owe me anything," Mr. Johnson says. Like Messrs. Luckey and Wilson, Mr. Johnson filed a suit for legal fees against Mr. Scruggs.

  In 2001, with the suit unresolved, Mr. Johnson dropped it. He was a liver-transplant survivor, and "decided I'd rather spend whatever time I have left alive at peace and not in court fighting for money," he says.

  Mr. Scruggs then sent him a $100,000 check, via an intermediary and without explanation. Mr. Johnson saw it as "a way for him to tell my estate that I was paid for my work."

  A consultant in the tobacco litigation, Richard Daynard, also sued Mr. Scruggs, eventually receiving a portion of what he claimed he was owed. Even Mr. Lewis, the man who says he gave Mr. Scruggs the idea for the tobacco litigation, says he had to wrangle with Mr. Scruggs to get his money. "There was a lot of internal strife," Mr. Lewis says. "In the interest of our client, we decided not to take it outside."

  Fee disputes among plaintiffs' lawyers aren't uncommon. Allies of Mr. Scruggs say that for him, such disputes involved a minority of former associates, people who grew greedy once Mr. Scruggs landed blockbuster settlements. "In these situations people want more money," says Mr. Keker, his lawyer. "Flies come around buzzing and think that their contribution is more than it is."

  In any case, the allegations of shortchanging came following the successful conclusion of cases. Beforehand, while legal success was uncertain, Mr. Scruggs sometimes paid handsomely for aid that could help bring victory.

Paying for Help

  The deals could be unusual. He agreed to pay no less than $50 million over 25 years, sometimes through a third party, to a consultant named P.L. Blake, whose bankruptcy Mr. Scruggs had handled and who had a conviction for bank fraud. Asked in a 2005 court case what the consultant did for all that money, Mr. Scruggs testified that Mr. Blake kept him informed of "inside baseball" and "movers and shakers" at the state and federal level. Mr. Blake declined to comment.

  Mr. Scruggs also made an unorthodox payment to help clear the way for his big tobacco settlement in 1997. An obstacle loomed in the form of a related lawsuit filed by a Mississippi lawyer named Shane Langston. Mr. Scruggs knew his brother, Joseph "Joey" Langston, and asked him to get Shane to drop his suit. Shane did drop it.

  In return, say people familiar with the matter, Mr. Scruggs offered Joey Langston 3% of his tobacco-case legal fees, to be shared with Shane and Shane's client. This came to tens of millions of dollars. Joey Langston couldn't be reached for comment. Shane Langston declined to discuss the arrangement.

  In 2003 Mr. Scruggs moved to the bucolic town of Oxford, home to Ole Miss. He built a white neoclassical mansion, lavished donations on the university and opened a practice in a balconied office above cafés and bookstores on the courthouse square.

  But the trail of embittered ex-associates was catching up with him. In the suit by Mr. Luckey, the fired young associate in the asbestos litigation, a U.S. magistrate in federal court in Oxford ruled in 2005 that Mr. Scruggs's "refusal to pay Luckey's fees...was frivolous," and ordered him to pay $17.6 million.

  In the suit by the other early partner in asbestos litigation, Mr. Wilson, an outside expert for a state judge said in January 2006 that Mr. Scruggs should pay $15 million.

  At this point, the risk to Mr. Scruggs was that the state-court judge would adopt that recommendation and order Mr. Scruggs to pay $15 million. To prevent this, the Scruggs defense team paid a close friend of the judge $50,000 to give the team drafts of court orders before they became final, according to a federal-court "information" document outlining charges for a guilty plea in the matter by Joey Langston, who was representing Mr. Scruggs in the case.

  Mr. Scruggs had told Mr. Langston to tell the state judge that if he ruled in Mr. Scruggs's favor, Mr. Scruggs would pass the judge's name along for a federal judgeship, according to a prosecutor's account, as accepted in the guilty plea. Mr. Scruggs paid $3 million to those who set up this effort to sway the judge, according to the guilty-plea information document.

  A key step in getting a federal judgeship is a recommendation from a U.S. senator. Mr. Scruggs suggested to his brother-in-law, then-Sen. Lott, that the state judge be considered, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Lott called the state judge to say he was aware of his interest in the federal bench.


   1969-1974: Scruggs flies training missions as a Navy fighter pilot upon graduation from the University of Mississippi.

  1974-1977: Scruggs returns to "Ole Miss" and earns a law degree.

  1977-1993: Scruggs begin his career as a bankruptcy attorney, but later specializes in litigation on behalf of asbestos victims.

  1993: Alwyn Luckey, a former employee, sues Scruggs over attorneys fees from asbestos settlements. Michael T. Lewis, a former law school classmate, approaches Scruggs with the idea to sue tobacco companies on behalf of the state of Mississippi.

  1994: Scruggs contacts Pete Johnson, a former Mississippi state auditor, for help clarifying Mississippi law to explicitly allow the attorney general to hire private lawyers to litigate for the state. William Roberts Wilson Jr., another former partner in the asbestos litigation, sues Scruggs over attorneys fees.

  1994-1998: Scruggs assembles teams of lawyers to pursue the tobacco litigation on behalf of Mississippi and 45 other states. Tobacco-makers reach a landmark, $206 billion settlement with the states in November 1998.

  1998-2003: Johnson and others allege Scruggs did not pay them their fare share of attorneys fees for work on the tobacco settlement. The disputes are resolved.

  2005: A federal court orders Scruggs to pay Luckey $17.6 million in unpaid attorneys fees, interest, and damages. On Aug. 31, Hurricane Katrina slams into the Gulf Coast. Scruggs proceeds to seek claims from insurers for hurricane damages on behalf of hundreds of clients.

  2006: Scruggs scores a victory in the Wilson lawsuit, when Judge Robert "Bobby" DeLaughter declines to award Mr. Wilson damages beyond unpaid fees.

  2007: Scruggs and associated lawyers win $26.5 million in legal fees from a settlement over Katrina damages with State Farm Insurance Cos. in January. In March, one of the associated law firms sues Scruggs over distribution of the fees. In November, prosecutors indict Scruggs, his son, a third partner, and two acquaintances in an alleged attempt to bribe the judge hearing the lawsuit.

2008: The criminal trial against Mr. Scruggs is scheduled to commence March 31.

  In August 2006 the state judge, Robert "Bobby" DeLaughter, ruled that Mr. Scruggs didn't owe Mr. Wilson $15 million -- as the outside expert had said -- but only $1.5 million. Judge DeLaughter didn't return calls seeking comment. He has told the local press that "I know I didn't take a bribe." Ultimately, Sen. Lott endorsed someone else for the federal judgeship.

  Judge DeLaughter remains on the bench and hasn't faced charges in the case, nor has Mr. Scruggs. Mr. Scruggs's lawyer, Mr. Keker, says, "I don't think there's any evidence anywhere that there was a quid pro quo or that the judge was given a thing of value or that he was influenced in any way."

  Joey Langston's guilty plea, to conspiracy to corruptly influence a state official, came in January. The investigation is continuing.

  A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and two prosecutors have interviewed Mr. Lott in recent weeks, say people familiar with the matter. He "may be a witness" in the case against Mr. Scruggs, says U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee. An attorney for Mr. Lott, who resigned from the Senate in late 2007, said, "Sen. Lott is a witness and only a witness."

  The case that led to Mr. Scruggs's bribery-conspiracy indictment last November grew out of Hurricane Katrina's destruction in 2005, which included large coastal houses of Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Lott. When insurers began saying homeowner policies didn't cover the damage, Mr. Scruggs sprang into action, organizing a team of lawyers to fight them.

  Among those joining Scruggs Katrina Group were Jackson lawyers John Jones and Steve Funderburg. In early 2007, a settlement with State Farm Insurance Cos. brought the group $26.5 million in legal fees. Of this, Mr. Scruggs offered Messrs. Jones and Funderburg's law firm $1.6 million. It was Mr. Funderburg's fury at the size of this cut that led to his blistering email to Mr. Scruggs in March 2007.

Piece of the Pie

  The Jones firm sued Mr. Scruggs and the others for a bigger piece of the pie. Within days, according to federal prosecutors, Mr. Scruggs met with three other lawyers to plan how to rig the outcome. The three -- all later indicted along with Mr. Scruggs -- were his son and law partner David "Zach" Scruggs, Sidney Backstrom and Timothy Balducci.

  Mr. Balducci was a longtime friend of the state judge to whom the case was given, Henry Lackey, a 73-year-old jurist with white hair, a slow drawl and a seat on a state commission on judicial integrity. In the spring of last year, Mr. Balducci arranged to meet with the judge at his chambers in Calhoun City, Miss., and, according to a government filing, offered Judge Lackey a position with his firm in exchange for an order dismissing the suit.

  Judge Lackey has said he was shocked. "My first thought was: What kind of character flaw has  he discovered in me that would lead him to think that I would do something like this?" Mr. Lackey said in an interview last November. "I was furious.... This strikes at the heart of our judicial system." He called federal authorities and agreed to take part in a sting, in which he ultimately asked Mr. Balducci for $40,000 in exchange for a certain ruling. For six weeks starting late last September, the FBI recorded Mr. Balducci's conversations with the judge, often full of ambiguous good-old-boy banter.

  On Sept. 27, Mr. Balducci delivered $20,000 in cash, according to the indictment and his subsequent guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford. "This is just between me and you.... There ain't another soul in the world that knows," according to transcripts filed in court.

  "I would think Mr. Scruggs would have to know something," Judge Lackey replied.

  Later in the conversation, Mr. Balducci said Mr. Scruggs was "not involved in a direct manner....doesn't wanna be. Doesn't need to be."

  They began using farm-country code to discuss the payments and the order the judge was supposed to prepare. "I was gonna get those sweet potatoes delivered to my friend down there," Mr. Balducci told the judge on Oct. 10. "Do you have any idea when you might get those?"

  On Oct. 18, according to the indictment, Judge Lackey provided a draft court order to make it appear he was going along with the scheme. Mr. Balducci delivered it to Mr. Scruggs's firm and picked up a $40,000 check reimbursing him for the bribes -- plus paperwork to make it appear this was a payment for legal work -- according to the indictment. It was after Mr. Balducci gave the judge a final cash payment last Nov. 1 that federal agents pulled him over on the roadside and confronted him.

Wearing a Wire

  Within hours, he was driving through the woods and farms back toward Oxford and the Scruggs Law Firm. Wearing a hidden microphone, he climbed the steps to the offices upstairs.

  According to a transcript of recorded conversations and people familiar with the afternoon's events, Mr. Balducci first joshed with Mr. Backstrom about his new house and his children's trick-or-treating the night before. Then, prosecutors say,  he suggested to Mr. Backstrom and Zach Scruggs, using the code word, that the judge wanted more money. "I've gotta go back for another delivery of…sweet potatoes down there," he said.

  Finally Mr. Balducci made his way to Richard Scruggs, in his corner office decorated with a painting of a sunlit marsh and a table holding his Navy aviator's helmet. Mr. Balducci showed him a new version of the fake judicial ruling in favor of Mr. Scruggs in the legal-fee suit. "Read it and tell me if that, if it's OK," Mr. Balducci said.

  Mr. Scruggs spotted a grammatical error. "That last sentence is not really a sentence," he said. "He needs a colon there."

  Following a script suggested by investigators, Mr. Balducci said the judge had asked for more money. "He thinks he's a little more exposed...than he was before and did I think that you would do a little something else... 'bout ten or more so?"

  A phone call interrupted.

  "Do you want me to cover that or not?" Mr. Balducci asked.

  "I'll take care of it," Mr. Scruggs finally said, adding that Mr. Balducci should bill him for additional legal drafting.

  "I'll do your jury instructions," Mr. Balducci said. "That's probably worth about ten, don't you think?" The two discussed how to prepare the instructions and then agreed on an engagement letter to confirm the work. Prosecutors say this was false paperwork to cover payments that reimbursed Mr. Balducci for bribes. Mr. Scruggs's lawyers say it was legitimate paperwork.

  On Nov. 28, a U.S. grand jury charged Richard Scruggs, Zach Scruggs, Mr. Backstrom, Mr. Balducci and a Balducci partner, Steven Patterson, with conspiring to commit fraud and bribe an elected official. Days later, Mr. Balducci pleaded guilty. His partner, Mr. Patterson, later pleaded guilty as well.

  Messrs. Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom now face trial. Richard Scruggs's lawyer, Mr. Keker, says the recordings contain multiple admissions by Mr. Balducci that Mr. Scruggs wasn't in on the bribery scheme. As for Zach Scruggs, he "is innocent and never joined an unlawful conspiracy," says the son's lawyer, Todd Graves. Mr. Backstrom's attorney, Frank Trapp, likewise says his client "never had any intent to influence a judge."

Write to Paulo Prada at paulo.prada@wsj.com and Ashby Jones at ashby.jones@wsj.com

Scruggs Pleads Guilty in Bribery Case


Published: March 14, 2008

  One of the best-known plaintiffs’ lawyers in the country, Richard Scruggs, unexpectedly agreed to plead guilty on Friday to a criminal charge of conspiracy in the attempted bribery of a judge.

  Mr. Scruggs was accused of an effort to obtain a favorable ruling in a lawsuit brought by a rival over legal fees in litigation related to hurricane Katrina. Sidney Backstrom, a lawyer charged along with Mr. Scruggs, also pleaded guilty. Their pleas came in federal court in Jackson, Miss.

  The single charge — five others were dismissed under the agreement — carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the agreement.

  Mr. Scruggs’s son, Zachary, who was also named in an indictment handed up in November, did not plead and so is expected to go to trial beginning March 31.

  Mr. Scruggs and his lawyer, John Keker, could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could lawyers for Mr. Scruggs’s son or Mr. Backstrom.

  The trial of Mr. Scruggs, famous for his role in tobacco litigation portrayed in the movie “The Insider,” has transfixed the legal community in Mississippi and nationwide. He is widely credited with developing the legal strategy of gathering mass of clients and suing not just individual companies, like makers of asbestos or cigarettes, but entire industries for damages. In the process he became wealthy and unpopular in the eyes of big business.


Famed Litigator Admits Attempt To Bribe a Mississippi Judge

By Emily Wagster Pettus

Associated Press
Saturday, March 15, 2008

  Trial lawyer Richard F. Scruggs, chief architect of the $206 billion nationwide tobacco settlement in the 1990s, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to bribe a judge in another case.

  Scruggs and Sidney A. Backstrom, a lawyer in his firm, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud for offering a $50,000 cash bribe to a Mississippi judge in exchange for a favorable ruling in a dispute over legal fees from a Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuit.

  In return for Scruggs's guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss., federal prosecutors will recommend that several other charges against him be dropped. No sentencing date was set. Prosecutors are asking that Scruggs be sentenced to the maximum of five years in prison. He will also lose his license to practice law.

  Scruggs's son and law partner, David Zachary Scruggs, also is charged in the case but did not enter a plea and is expected to be tried.

  For months, Scruggs appeared intent on fighting the charges. He gave up after two of his co-defendants turned on him. One secretly tape-recorded him for the FBI.

  Federal prosecutors had no comment, and Scruggs's attorneys could not be reached.

  After Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Scruggs sued insurance companies on behalf of hundreds of homeowners whose damage claims were denied.

  Scruggs, his son and three other associates were indicted in November. They were accused of conspiring to bribe Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry L. Lackey, who was overseeing a dispute between Scruggs and other lawyers over $26.5 million in fees from a settlement of the hurricane cases. Lackey reported the bribe offer to the FBI and worked undercover.

  Two of the men indicted, lawyer Timothy Balducci and former Mississippi state auditor Steven A. Patterson, pleaded guilty and worked with the prosecution.

  Balducci told the FBI that he paid Lackey $50,000 in cash at the behest of the Scruggses and Backstrom. Balducci wore a wire and recorded incriminating statements from Scruggs.

  Scruggs lives in Oxford. He is the brother-in-law of former senator Trent Lott and is a major contributor to Democrats.

  In the tobacco case, Scruggs worked with whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco company scientist. The actor Colm Feore played Scruggs in "The Insider," a 1999 movie about the case.

  Scruggs, a graduate of the University of Mississippi, is one of the school's largest donors. The music department building at the university bears his name.

Scruggs built fortune with class action suits

Saturday, March 15, 2008


  PASCAGOULA -- Before Richard "Dickie" Scruggs became known as a multi-millionaire plaintiffs attorney, he had humble Mississippi beginnings, his friends said.

  Scruggs was born in Brookhaven in 1943. His father left the family when Scruggs was 5, leaving his wife, Helen, to raise their son, according to a 2000 Time Magazine article by Pascagoula native Dan Goodgame.

  Scruggs grew up in Pascagoula and learned about the shipbuilding industry from his mother, who was a secretary at Ingalls Shipbuilding. After graduating from Ole Miss and serving as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot, Scruggs opened his Pascagoula law firm in 1980.

  Before earning nearly $1 billion in a landmark class-action lawsuit against tobacco companies in the 1990s, Scruggs represented shipyard workers who suffered from lung cancer and other diseases after exposure to asbestos.

  "I like to get the stakes so high that neither side can afford to lose," Scruggs said in a 1998 interview on PBS' Frontline TV show, referring to his forte of bringing large numbers of plaintiffs to the table.

  In his explanation, Scruggs said, "That means that in mass tort cases there is no way to try any individual case because the defendant has the advantage. He can beat you one at a time or ... you have not put them in mortal danger."

  Before Scruggs represented hundreds of homeowners affected by Hurricane Katrina, his lawsuits centered mostly on health issues. Alongside former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, a Pascagoula native and Ole Miss classmate, Scruggs sued the tobacco industry in the 1990s and won billion-dollar settlements to pay for health-care costs in Mississippi and other states that joined in the lawsuit.

  Scruggs' pay for his contributions was reportedly $50 million over 20 years. Mississippi and other states shared $248 billion.

  The case inspired the 1999 movie, "The Insider," portions of which were filmed in Pascagoula, where the original lawsuit was filed. Colm Feore portrayed Scruggs in the film, and Scruggs and Moore each had appearances on the big screen, including a scene in which Pascagoula police officers escorted Scruggs, Moore and whistleblower Jeffrey Wigard -- played by Russell Crowe -- from Beach Boulevard to a packed Pascagoula courtroom.

  "The money didn't matter as much as the public health," Scruggs later told Frontline. "It's not often in life that you have a chance to make a mark on humanity."

  The article by Goodgame, now a managing editor with "Fortune" magazine, also focused on Scruggs' stint as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in the early 1970s.

  Goodgame wrote that Scruggs -- who Goodgame said he has known for more than 40 years -- had a plan in case the U.S. entered into war with the former Soviet Union.

  "U.S. aircraft would fly beneath the radar of Soviet warships, then pop up suddenly and use anti-tank bombs to destroy the ships' cruise missiles," Goodgame wrote.

  "His commander adopted the scheme, and Scruggs had his first taste of plotting to crack defenses that had been thought to be impregnable."

  During his legal career, Scruggs enjoyed the action over the money, Goodgame surmised in the article.

  Scruggs' other local contributions relate to his large donations to the University of Mississippi.

  In 1993, Scruggs and his wife, Diane, bought the Longfellow House in Pascagoula. The couple paid $200,000, saving the three-story Greek Revival house from demolition, a move that allowed wedding receptions, large political functions and other events to be held.

  After spending $1.2 million to renovate the home -- which was built in 1850 -- the Scruggses donated it to the University of Mississippi Foundation, which put it on the market.

  Drs. Randy and Tracy Roth bought the home in the spring of 2006 and converted it into a private residence for the first time in nearly 70 years.

  The couple also converted a historic antebellum home on Main Street in Moss Point into the Dick and Diane Scruggs Center for Compatible Development, where city officials have considered moving City Hall.

Reporter Brad Crocker can be reached at bcrocker@themississippipress.com or 228-934-1431.


More Case Documents:

• Amended complaint in the underlying fee-dispute case

• Criminal information filed against former Scruggs lawyer Joey Langston

• Joey Langston's plea agreement

• Transcript of hearing on Langston's plea

• Steve Patterson's plea agreement

• Transcript of conversations between Henry Lackey and Tim Balducci on Aug. 2007

• Transcript of conversation between Scruggs and Balducci