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Siegelman's attorney's office is burglarized

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Montgomery police are investigating a weekend break-in at the office of an attorney for Don Siegelman, just a couple of days after the former Alabama governor was sentenced to more than seven years in prison in a government corruption case.

Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, sentenced to nearly seven years in the case, were taken into custody as soon as they were sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller and are being held at the federal prison in Atlanta.

Attorney Susan James said her office, in an old two-story white house several blocks from downtown, was broken into sometime between 2 p.m. Sunday and 8:45 a.m. Monday. She said her files were "ransacked" but that the only items that appeared to be missing were four commemorative coins.

Montgomery Police Capt. Huey Thornton said police are investigating the burglary and that the only items apparently taken were the coins, valued at about $2,400.

The burglary occurred as James and other attorneys were preparing to file an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that Siegelman remain free on bond until the appellate court hears the appeal of his conviction.

James said computers, television sets and several bottles of champagne and other liquor in the office were not taken.

"They went through our client files," James said.

James, who went to visit Siegelman at the prison in Atlanta Saturday, said the important files concerning the case and plans for the appeal were with her and not in the office. She said the office has been burglarized before.

She said Siegelman was in good spirits when she saw him in prison. She said he and Scrushy are being kept together, but are isolated from other inmates.

"I thought he was doing exceptionally well. He was very focused on the case," James said of Siegelman. She said Siegelman was visited over the weekend by his wife, Lori, and his brother, Les.

In deciding guidelines to use in determining Siegelman's sentence, Fuller considered some charges that the former governor was acquitted of during his trial last year. Fuller said the 11th Circuit allows judges to use acquitted offenses against a defendant during sentencing.

Another Siegelman attorney, David McDonald, said defense attorneys will challenge that practice during the appeal.

"It's difficult to believe in the United States a man can be not guilty of all of these charges and that can still become a factor in sentencing," McDonald said.

Prosecutor Steve Feaga said it's fair for the judge to consider the overall criminal scheme, including acquitted conduct, when he fashions a sentence.

"He was convicted of offenses arising out of those things. That opens up all of the conduct," Feaga said.

Miami defense attorney Michael Pasano, a former federal prosecutor who defends white collar crime cases, said the U.S. Supreme has allowed judges to consider in sentencing related acts, which he said includes acquitted conduct.

He said it makes a defense attorney's job difficult at sentencing.

"It makes you nuts. The truth is if I lose even one count during the trial I might as well lose them all," Pasano said.

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

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