Posts Tagged ‘Paul Minor’

“FBI Probing Edwards Senate Campaign Donor”

We told you the continuing Paul Minor imbroglio in Mississippi (Mar. 16 and many other posts) was going to be worth watching:

[In recent weeks] four former fundraising aides to [former Sen. John] Edwards have spoken voluntarily to FBI agents.

Democrats familiar with the investigation said that neither the current or past Edwards campaigns nor any of his staffers appear to be targets of the investigation, which is trying to determine whether Minor reimbursed his children for $8,000 in contributions to Edwards, an illegal practice known as “conduiting.” …

Trial lawyers are a fixture of Democratic politics and fundraising, particularly in the South, but some also have a reputation in Democratic political circles for a freewheeling approach to campaign finance law. Within Edwards’ 2004 campaign, staffers referred to those flamboyant personalities by an acronym: They called them “DFTLs,” which according to former staffers was short for “dirty (expletive) trial lawyers.”

“No current staffer for John Edwards for President uses that kind of language to talk about our donors,” said Kate Bedingfield, campaign spokeswoman.

(Ben Smith, The Politico, Mar. 21). I mentioned Minor’s prominence among Edwards’ presidential donors in this 2004 W$J piece. And as Ted noted on Jun. 24 of last year the Federal Election Commission has fined the law firm of prominent Arkansas plaintiff’s attorney Tab Turner, as well as the Edwards 2004 presidential campaign itself, over Turner’s having unlawfully funneled money to the campaign in the guise of contributions by employees at his firm (see Apr. 28-29, 2003).

Paul Minor retrial, cont’d

In recent developments at the Mississippi judicial-bribery retrial, Richard (“Dickie”) Scruggs, a longstanding associate of attorney Paul Minor’s, “testified without accepting the U.S. Justice Department’s offer of immunity from prosecution”. Scruggs had not taken the stand during the first trial. (Anita Lee, “Scruggs takes stand”, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Mar. 14). Earlier, attorney Leonard Radlauer testified that he’d served as a go-between in a scheme in which Minor furnished $118,000 to pay off a debt owed by Judge John Whitfield of Gulfport. (“Scruggs likely to testify today”, Mar. 13). According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, summarizing his testimony,

Radlauer said he later came to the realization after receiving what he considered a fraudulent promissory note from Whitfield that Minor’s reason for wanting him to make the payment wasn’t above-board.

“It wasn’t to keep it out of the paper,” Radlauer said. “I thought it was a pretty shady thing. … It was backdating.”

(Jimmie E. Gates, “Witness: Loan antics ‘shady'”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Mar. 13; also Gates, Clarion-Ledger, Mar. 9, Mar. 10, Mar. 12; Lee, Sun-Herald, Mar. 12). As prosecutors wrapped up their case, U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate on Thursday refused a defense motion to dismiss the charges. (Lee, Sun-Herald, Mar. 15 first and second story). Prosecutors have said that Minor, one of the state’s most prominent plaintiff’s lawyers, slipped the money to judges in exchange for favorable rulings. Earlier: Feb. 26, Mar. 8, Mar. 9, etc.

“Scruggs offered immunity in bribery trial”

Lands on his feet every time, it seems: “The U.S. Justice Department has offered immunity from prosecution to attorney Richard ‘Dickie’ Scruggs in exchange for his testimony in a judicial bribery trial involving his former colleague, Paul Minor.” (Biloxi Sun-Herald, Mar. 7). We’ve extensively followed the trial and now retrial of Minor, a prominent Mississippi attorney, and several judges.

Mississippi judicial bribery retrial

Retrial is getting under way in the high-profile case against prominent Gulf Coast plaintiff’s lawyer Paul Minor and two former judges. Earlier proceedings resulted in the acquittal of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr. of all charges and a mixture of not guilty findings and inability to reach a verdict in the case of other defendants. Our extensive coverage is here.

Update: Jury clears Diaz of tax evasion charges

In the latest chapter of the long-running Mississippi judicial scandal (Dec. 10, etc.), a jury has cleared Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. of federal tax evasion charges. (Jimmie E. Gates, “Jury clears Diaz”, Jackson Clarion Ledger, Apr. 28; Julie Goodman, “Diaz acquittal fuels election questions”, Jackson Clarion Ledger, Apr. 29). Earlier, a jury had acquitted Diaz of corruption charges while failing to resolve charges against several other figures in the long-running case, who face retrial in August.

“Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Burkhalter said loans backed by prominent attorneys Richard Scruggs and Paul Minor were not repaid by the Diazes, ‘who used substantial amounts of the money for personal use. They didn’t put it on their tax return.'” (Shelia Byrd, “Diaz attorney says client didn’t deliberately withhold tax information”, AP/Biloxi Sun-Herald, Apr. 25). “Defense attorneys described Diaz as a disorganized fellow who left details such as taxes and finances to his wife and who would not knowingly hide income from the government.” (“Jury acquits Diaz in tax case”, AP/Biloxi Sun-Herald, Apr. 27; Jimmie E. Gates, “Prosecutor: Diaz didn’t report all funds to IRS”, Jackson Clarion Ledger, Apr. 26).

Update: Mississippi judicial corruption retrial

The retrial of the judicial bribery case against prominent attorney Paul Minor and two former state judges has now been set for Aug. 14, following delays requested by Minor’s attorneys (Anita Lee, “Judicial trial set Aug. 14”, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Feb. 11). And the federal tax evasion trial of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. is now scheduled for Apr. 3 (“Diaz tax trial delayed”, Feb. 21). For more, see Dec. 10 and our many previous links.

Update: feds reindict in Mississippi scandal

“The federal government has indicted three defendants in a judicial bribery case for the fourth time, adding conspiracy to the list of charges against former Biloxi lawyer Paul Minor, former Circuit Court Judge John Whitfield and former Chancery Court Judge Wes Teel.” (Biloxi Sun-Herald; AP; Jackson Clarion-Ledger). In August, a jury acquitted state Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz Jr. of all charges in the case, acquitted Minor and Whitfield of some charges, and was unable to reach agreement on the other counts against Minor, Whitfield and Teel. For our coverage, see Sept. 18, Aug. 17, Aug. 15, Aug. 11, etc. More legal woes for Minor: Julie Goodman, “Minor may lose bond following La. arrest”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Nov. 5 (federal prosecutors allege violations of Minor’s bail requirements after police charge him at crash scene “with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, failure to maintain control, driving without an insurance certificate and reckless driving. …The motorist in the other car, who subsequently hired an attorney, complained of back and chest pain, he said”); “Attorney in bribery case faces new bond conditions”, AP/Biloxi Sun-Herald, Nov. 8; “Judge to consult doctor who tested Paul Minor”, AP/Sun-Herald, Nov. 25.

Update: feds to retry Miss. corruption case

Some things even the hurricane isn’t going to stop: “The federal government announced Friday that it will retry Coast attorney Paul Minor and two former judges he is accused of bribing.” (Geoff Pender, “Government to retry judicial bribery case”, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Sept. 16; Jimmie E. Gates and Jerry Mitchell, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Sept. 17). See Aug. 15, Aug. 12, etc.

Mississippi latest: Diaz indicted on tax charges

Three days after a jury acquitted Mississippi supreme court justice Oliver Diaz Jr. of charges of taking bribes from prominent lawyer Paul Minor, U.S. District Court Judge Henry T. Wingate unsealed a tax evasion indictment against him which had been kept under wraps lest it prejudice jurors. Included are charges “of evading income taxes due for 2000 and 2001, when [Diaz and ex-wife Jennifer] received $155,000 in loans secured by personal injury attorneys Minor and Richard ‘Dickie’ Scruggs.” (Anita Lee, “Justice Diaz indicted on tax evasion charges”, Biloxi Sun-Herald, Aug. 15; “Diazes indicted”, Aug. 16). The Jackson Clarion-Ledger (Jerry Mitchell, “Diaz now faces tax evasion charges”, Aug. 16) notes that Diaz won’t be automatically removed from office even if convicted of the new charge:

Under state law, those convicted of the following crimes can remain in office -— manslaughter, tax violations, corruption, gambling or “dealing in futures with money coming to his hands by virtue of his office.”

On the other hand, it appears that a judicial watchdog tribunal would still have potential authority to remove Diaz if circumstances seem to warrant. (Geoff Pender, “Heads spinning at judicial watchdog agency”, BSH, Aug. 16; “New indictment makes Diaz’s reinstatement uncertain”, JCL, Aug. 16).