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Siegelman, Scrushy request no prison time

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy have asked a judge not to send them to prison when he sentences them next month on federal bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud charges.

Their filings late Tuesday are in sharp contrast to federal prosecutors’ recommendation that Siegelman be given a 30-year prison sentence, and Scrushy 25 years, on their convictions by a federal court jury in June 2006.

Siegelman, 61, and Scrushy, 54, contend no prison time would be in line with the lack of severity of the crime. The bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud charges stemmed from Siegelman giving Scrushy a position on a powerful hospital regulatory board, where he had served for other governors, in exchange for $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s 1999 campaign for a statewide lottery.

Scrushy’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to show leniency on grounds that Scrushy did nothing wrong when he arranged for the contributions to the campaign for a lottery, which was to help pay for college educations.

“Mr. Scrushy believed, in good faith, that the contributions to the Alabama lottery campaign that lie at the core of this case were made for legitimate political purposes, and were no different in character than the hundreds of millions of dollars that are contributed to candidates and political causes every year across the country,” said the filing, signed by Scrushy’s chief attorney, Art Leach.

Siegelman said Wednesday he has also filed papers asking Fuller not to sentence him to any prison time.

“Usually prisons are reserved for those people who are a threat to society, who have shown that unless restrained, they will do a terrible act. The only act I did was to try to get kids a free college education,” said Siegelman.

Siegelman also was convicted on a charge of obstruction of justice for trying to hide from investigators that he had been given a motorcycle by a lobbyist and landfill operator. His filing contended the motorcycle was “a legitimate transaction” in which the governor bought it and resold and interest in it.

“As to the obstruction count, you cannot obstruct an innocent act,” the filing said.

“There was no Quid Pro Quo as to the Scrushy accounts and no criminal intent on the obstruction count,” it said.

Scrushy and Siegelman also raised objections to the government’s proposed financial penalties — a $1 million fine and $5.2 million in restitution from Siegelman and a $7.2 million fine and $628,000 in restitution from Scrushy.

Siegelman’s filing criticized the prosecutors’ method of calculating the penalty, saying it amounted to “throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks.”

Chief prosecutor Louis Franklin has filed motions asking Fuller to give Siegelman and Scrushy stiff sentences because their actions amounted to “a systematic and pervasive corruption” of the office of governor and the hospital regulatory panel known as the Certificate of Need Board.

The government filings refer to a history of corruption in state government while Siegelman was governor. But Siegelman said he was found not guilty of many of the counts alleging corruption in the government’s 34-count indictment against him.

“What is the point of having a jury trial if you ignore the jury verdict?” Siegelman said.

Franklin argued that lengthy prison terms are in order.

“This case demonstrates a sweeping corruption of Alabama state government at all levels,” the filing by prosecutors said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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