Patterson, Balducci, Langston – guess who’s special?

This is reporting week for Patterson and Balducci according to the Letter to Report on the docket of each.  Patterson will be confined in Montgomery and Balducci in Estill, South Carolina.

Langston, on the other hand, was initially scheduled to report in January until the USA filed a motion to delay reporting.

On December 16, 2008, JOSEPH C. LANGSTON was sentenced by the Court to three years in the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons. He was permitted to execute a voluntary surrender form and has been ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons before 2:00 p.m. on January 15, 2009.  JOSEPH C. LANGSTON is a crucial witness in an ongoing government investigation. It would be most helpful to have him available for personal conferences and telephone calls here in the Northern District of Mississippi. Accordingly, JOSEPH C. LANGSTON’s plea of guilty is final and his sentence has been imposed. The government simply asks that he be kept available to government investigators until further order of the Court.

Judge Mills granted the Motion and set March 21st as Langston’s reporting date.  Patsy Brumfield at the Journal picks up from there with Langston gets another prison reprieve.

Disgraced Booneville ex-attorney Joey Langston can remain out of federal prison a few more weeks to help investigators make at least one case, officials tell the Daily Journal today. Langston was scheduled to turn himself in to a Montgomery, Ala., prison today for his January 2008 guilty plea in the scheme to bribe Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County. Langston was sentenced last December for a Jan. 15 report, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office got Judge Michael Mills to delay his imprisonment until March 16 so he could continue helping with some investigations. However, prosecutors apparently renewed their request, sources say, and asked the court to postpone Langston’s report a few more weeks to keep him close as he apparently continues to cooperate with their investigations into the DeLaughter case and perhaps others.

Amazing! Even more amazing is Langston’s docket has no Letter to Report from David Crews, Clerk of the Northern District Court.  Someone must have known Langston had been assigned to Montgomery and passed the information on to Patsy.  I have no such logical explanation for her  departure from fact in the most recent favorable press for Langston from the Journal, Billy Crews, CEO: Booneville law firm reflects old, new family ties.

If you haven’t passed through downtown lately, you may not know The Langston Law Firm’s upscale office is home to Langston & Lott P.A. Actually, it’s come full circle from the days when Joe Ray Langston and his son-in-law, Duncan Lee “Bubba” Lott, practiced together for about a decade beginning in the mid-1970s.

Although all of today’s attorneys in the firm are Lotts, they’ve incorporated the Langston name to honor “Papa,” said firm member and his grandson Casey Langston Lott.

Both firms have been well-known in Northeast Mississippi through the years, but The Langston Law Firm hit a rough patch in early 2007 when its leader, Joseph C. “Joey” Langston, Joe Ray Langston’s elder son, admitted involvement in an illegal scheme to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.

Casey Lott said Joey asked the Lotts to move to the 100 S. Main St. building and suggested they honor his father by using his name in the firm’s title.

As special as Joey is, might he be expecting that law license back?  Nothing would be surprising in light of the terms of his Plea Agreement.

The defendant agrees to waive indictment and plead guilty under oath to a one-count Information, which charges conspiracy to corruptly influence an elected state official, and which carries maximum possible penalties of 5 years imprisonment, $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, and a mandatory special assessment of $100; all in violation of Title 18, United States Code § 371.

That’s Langston’s Plea, now look at the Agreement:

  • Downward departure: The parties agree that the sentence in this case shall not exceed three years. This is an II(c)(1)(C) provision. In the event the Court declines to accept this three year “cap,” the parties ask only that the defendant be permitted to withdraw his plea.
  • Cooperation: The defendant agrees to cooperate with the United States Attorney by giving full and truthful statements to such agents as are assigned by the United States Attorney to interview defendant as to all knowledge defendant may have of other persons involved in any way in the offenses charged and all other criminal offenses…
  • More downward departure: The United States Attorney reserved the right, in his sole discretion, to move the Court for a downward departure from the applicable guideline range (or Rule 35 reduction of sentence) in the event the United States Attorney determines that the defendant’s cooperation has risen to the level of substantial assistance.
  • $100 assessment fee: As part of his cooperation, defendant will pay to the Clerk of this Court before sentencing the mandatory $100.00 assessment fee for Count One.

Sounds like a great deal, does it not; but, there’s more…

chjail

The United States agrees not to charge the defendant with any other offenses, related or unrelated, as of the date of  this Agreement.

…and more

hundred-dollar-bill

The United States agrees not to seek forfeitures of the defendant’s assets.

Langston appeared before Judge Mills in December and, once again, we turn to the Journal for the story, Langston handed three-year sentence

U.S. District Chief Judge Michael P. Mills gave Langston the maximum prison time possible Tuesday and hit him with a $250,000 fine to wrap up this phase of an investigation that has rocked the Mississippi legal community for more than a year.

Prosecutors had asked Mills to consider a lesser sentence because of Langston’s extensive cooperation in two judicial bribery cases that have shocked the public and legal community since the arrests of former Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and four others in late November 2007.

Judge Mills reportedly explained three years was the lesser sentence.  The transcript, however, won’t post on Pacer for several more weeks.

There have been questions about Langston’s sentence – some even before the hearing such as Langston sentencing, timing spur questions

It’s unclear why former Booneville attorney Joey Langston will be sentenced for a crime in which several others are under suspicion but no one has been publicly indicted for.

Langston, once one of the state’s top trial lawyers, pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to being part of a scheme to get help from Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter over legal fees in an asbestos lawsuit. His sentencing is set for Dec. 16.

“Normally, sentencing would not take place until all the cooperation is over,” notes Dr. Ronald Rychlak, a University of Mississippi School of Law professor with criminal proceedings expertise.

“Prosecutors like to keep that threat hanging to assure cooperation through any necessary trial testimony.”

…That’s assuming trials will follow.

In his guilty-plea proceedings before U.S. Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, the 53-year-old Langston swore he conspired with famed former Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, former New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci, former state Auditor Steven Patterson and former Hinds District Attorney Ed Peters to bribe DeLaughter with the promise of a federal judgeship.

In a Feb. 21 motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. Norman asks for the delay until after Scruggs’ trial in another judicial bribery case – then set for March 31 – “to enable Joseph C. Langston to substantially assist the government and to provide him with an incentive to do so”…

“Maybe they have decided that there will not be any trials,” Rychlak speculated.

Maybe plea agreements, like Langston’s, will make trials unnecessary or maybe investigators have decided they don’t have enough to bring anybody to trial.

Just what incentive might USA Norman have it mind?  Could it be he intends to ask Judge Mills for another downward departure?  What is it that makes Joey so special to the USA?

Maybe this is the kind of thing that make Langston special – Langston says Scruggs ‘stiffed’ him, too.

Richard “Dickie” Scruggs didn’t pay me what he said he would, says former Booneville attorney Joey Langston in newly filed court documents.

Even so, Langston said he paid former Hinds District Attorney Edward Peters his share – $950,000 – of what they “saved” Scruggs by allegedly bribing a judge to rule for Scruggs in a legal-fees case now the object of a federal investigation and a civil lawsuit.

More than a year ago, Langston pleaded guilty to being part of a conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Raymond to favor Scruggs against attorney W. Roberts Wilson Jr.’s claim the then-famed Oxford attorney owed him millions in legal fees from national asbestos lawsuits…Wednesday, Wilson asked the U.S. District Court of Northern Mississippi for what’s left from Peters’ payoff – $425,000 – which the U.S. Attorney’s Office has asked be held as forfeit for illegal deeds…

In his filing Wednesday, Langston’s affidavit says he paid Peters $1 million “even though I did not receive $3,000,000.00 from Scruggs.”

Sorry, Joey, no one is special enough to make this fly without a lot of documentation independently verifiable documentation.  Otherwise, someone might think you owed Scruggs at least that much if not  more.

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