Disgraced Miss. judge to report to federal prison
Published: Monday, January 4, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 4, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.
JACKSON, Miss. — Bobby DeLaughter, a former Mississippi prosecutor and judge whose legal conquests became the subject of books and a movie, is set to report to federal prison Monday for lying to the FBI in a judicial bribery investigation.
The next chapter of DeLaughter's life, as inmate No. 12930-042, marks a long fall from the height of his legal career in 1994 when he was a prosecutor who helped convict a civil rights-era assassin for the 30-year-old murder of NAACP leader Medgar Evers.
The 55-year-old DeLaughter (deh-LAW'-ter) was to report to a federal prison camp in McCreary, Ky., by 2 p.m.
DeLaughter's lawyer, Thomas Durkin of Chicago, told The Associated Press on Monday that he didn't know exactly what time DeLaughter would report to prison, but that he wouldn't be late. A prison official said he was not in custody as of about 10:45 a.m.
DeLaughter was sentenced to 18 months in November after pleading guilty to lying about secret conversations he had with a lawyer while presiding over a dispute between wealthy lawyers over legal fees. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped conspiracy and mail fraud charges.
DeLaughter made a name for himself as an assistant district attorney when he helped put away Byron de la Beckwith for Evers' 1963 murder.
He was appointed to the bench in 2002 and was later elected to the position.
His storied career ended with the same bribery scandal that toppled Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, chief architect of the multibillion-dollar tobacco litigation of the 1990s — which was depicted in the movie "The Insider," starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.
DeLaughter was presiding over a lawsuit in which a lawyer sued Scruggs for a bigger cut of millions in legal fees from asbestos litigation. Prosecutors said DeLaughter ruled in Scruggs' favor in exchange for a promise that he'd be considered for a federal judgeship, with help from Scruggs' high-powered connections.
DeLaughter ruled in 2006 that Scruggs didn't owe the former partner anything more than a belated $1.5 million payment. The ruling was contrary to the findings of a special master appointed to weigh the evidence before trial.
DeLaughter pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with his old boss, former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters. Peters was accused of receiving $1 million to influence DeLaughter, but he cooperated in the investigation and was not charged.
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