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Bailey regrets role during Siegelman corruption trial

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Nick Bailey, preparing to report to federal prison Friday, says he regrets the role he played that led to the downfall of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

Bailey, a longtime aide to Siegelman when he was governor and lieutenant governor, provided the key testimony last year that led to the conviction of Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy on bribery and other charges in a government corruption case.

At a gathering with friends Wednesday night, Bailey said that if he had it to do over again he would not have cooperated with federal prosecutors and instead would have taken his chance with a jury.

In an interview, Bailey said that if given a chance, he would apologize to Siegelman "not for being at the trial, not for what was said at the trial because that was not by choice — but for making the mistakes that I made that got me there in the first place."

Bailey pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in the government corruption case and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. His sentence could have been four years or more, but was reduced because of his cooperation with federal authorities — including his testimony at four government corruption trials.

Bailey is to report to a federal prison in Atlanta before 2 p.m. Friday to begin serving his sentence. The Atlanta prison is a processing center and Bailey will likely be transferred to another federal lockup.

Siegelman is serving more than seven years at a federal prison in Oakdale, La. Scrushy was sentenced to almost seven years and is at a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas.

Charges

Siegelman was accused of naming Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery.

Bailey testified that Siegelman told him that was the deal. Defense lawyers argued that Bailey never witnessed a conversation between Siegelman and Scrushy.

Bailey said Wednesday he told the truth on the stand. But he declined to say whether he thought Siegelman was guilty of the crimes. He said he thinks nothing went on during Siegelman's term that hasn't gone on during other administrations.

On the witness stand at the Siegelman trial, Bailey admitted that he had received thousands of dollars in bribes during the time Siegelman was governor and lieutenant governor. Bailey started working for Siegelman as a driver while he was running for lieutenant governor in 1994. He later served as aide to Siegelman as governor and became acting director of a state agency that controls millions of dollars in government grants.

"I knew what I was doing probably wasn't the right thing," Bailey said. "Whether it warranted what we've all gone through over the last five or six years, I don't know. That's for someone else to decide."

Since accepting the plea deal from prosecutors in 2003, Bailey said he's spent $300,000 on legal fees and caused turmoil for his family.

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

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