Bullseye! Patsy Brumfield hit dead center with Zach Scruggs hearing could unveil additional information for NEMS360.com. A look at the transcript of Zach’s plea hearing indicates Zach’s Motion to Vacate, like Brumfield’s take on the case, is right on target.
I didn’ t conspire to bribe Judge Lackey in connection with an arbitration order, and I would have stopped it had I known.
However, I did have some knowledge that Tim Balducci had a close personal relationship with Judge Lackey, and that he used that personal relationship to have improper ex parte contacts with the judge regarding the order. Such improper contacts, left unchecked, can – – and in this case did – – deprive the people of the state of Mississippi of fair and honest services.
Nowadays, two significant events make Zach’s “crime” what it was at the time – an ethical violation. The first of these events was the Fifth Circuit’s decision in USA v Minor – a decision most recently quoted on SLABBED in the post USA tells Judge Biggers more time needed for response to Scruggs
In order for section 666 to apply, the bribe must be offered or accepted “in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions” of the agency receiving federal funds. 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B)…
In Zach’s recently denied Motion to Allow Discovery, Request for Admission #11 addressed this very point and challenged the government to submit any evidence to the contrary:
Admit that in his adjudicatory role presiding over the Jones case, Judge Henry Lackey had no connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions of any entity that received over $10,000 of federal funds.
Of course, there is not now, nor has there ever been, evidence showing the required “nexus between the criminal conduct” of Zach or any other defendant in USA v Scruggs and the “agency administering the federal funds” the government claimed as the basis for federal jurisdiction.
The second significant event – the USSC decision in Skilling – further removed Zach’s ethical lapse from the status of a crime.
His plea connects with the Supreme Court decision because, basically, he pleaded guilty to failure to report the loss of honest services…[and]…the Court held…its reach is limited to “bribery and kickback schemes…
Again, Zach’s plea was to his knowledge of the ex parte contact with Judge Lackey and not to knowledge of any “bribery or kickback scheme”. Patsy Brumfield also makes this point:
Last fall, the 36-year-old Scruggs filed documents claiming that what he pleaded guilty to knowing about was no crime. They also say that new evidence proves he never knew anything about judicial bribery schemes that sent his father and others to prison.
She continues, quoting Judge Biggers’ Order setting the April 25th hearing on Zach’s Motion to Vacate:
“The court is of the opinion that all issues involved in said motion should be heard,” Biggers wrote in his Feb. 8 order setting the hearing. “The court will receive evidence if requested.”
“Evidence, if requested”, according to Brumfield, is “a tantalizing phrase”. Judge Biggers’ more recent order denying Zach’s Motion to Allow Discovery adds credibility to Brumfield’s suggestion the Judge was “teasing’ when he wrote the Court was willing to receive evidence.
Judge Biggers is certainly not above tormenting Zach, the plea transcript is evidence of that – and he may continue to do so until he makes his decision. However, at that point Biggers, if true to form, will follow the law and vacate Zach’s conviction on the same basis he dismissed charges in USA v Weiner – “the federal court not having jurisdiction in the case”.