Another lawyer pleads in bribery case

Published 11:46 pm Sunday, January 13, 2008

JACKSON (AP) — One of the defense attorneys who briefly represented prominent plaintiffs lawyer Richard ‘‘Dickie’’ Scruggs on bribery charges has pleaded guilty to trying to influence a Hinds County judge in 1994, a newspaper reports.

Booneville attorney Joey Langston pleaded guilty and admitted that he tried to influence the judge, sometimes with Scruggs’ help, according to a report Sunday in the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, which cited court documents.

The court records did not appear in an online court database and calls by The Associated Press to U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee on Sunday were not immediately returned. Langston and his attorney, Tony Farese, did not immediately respond to messages.

Email newsletter signup

Scruggs, his son and several associates were indicted Nov. 28 on charges they conspired to bribe a judge for a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a Hurricane Katrina settlement.

Langston had worked as an attorney for Scruggs in the bribery case. But when one of Scruggs’ associates, Timothy Balducci, pleaded guilty and began cooperating with investigators, Langston was implicated in another alleged corruption scheme, the paper reported.

On Dec. 10, the FBI searched the Langston law firm. On Jan. 8, Langston and his law partner, Billy Quin, both withdrew as attorneys for Scruggs.

Federal investigators have been probing a 1994 lawsuit in which two of Scruggs’ former associates, attorneys Alwyn Luckey and William Roberts Wilson Jr., sued Scruggs for a bigger cut of millions of dollars that the attorneys had won in asbestos litigation.

Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn said this past week that the 1994 file was not available because federal investigators took all 7,001 documents related to the case.

Balducci and Langston, who worked together at the time, paid former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters to try to influence Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter’s decision in the 1994 case, the paper reported.

Peters did not immediately respond to a message left at his home.

DeLaughter has declined to comment on specifics of the federal investigation, but in an interview earlier this week he denied ever taking a bribe.

‘‘I have not taken any bribes of any sort. Have not issued any rulings in exchange for money or anything else,’’ DeLaughter said. ‘‘If one were to go back and look at my very lengthy and detailed ruling, I think it would be very evident … they are on a solid legal basis and would stand any scrutiny.’’