A federal judge on Thursday refused to free former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman from prison while he continues to appeal his 2006 bribery conviction.
Siegelman has raised significant issues, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is unlikely to grant Siegelman a new trial since the court has already rejected similar arguments from his co-defendant, Richard Scrushy, U.S. District Judge Clay Land of Georgia said in his 31-page order.
A federal jury in 2006 convicted Siegelman of federal funds bribery on allegations that he sold a seat on a hospital regulatory board to former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy in exchange for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s unsuccessful 1999 campaign to get Alabama voters to approve a state lottery. Siegelman was also convicted of obstruction of justice.
Siegelman, 68, has been serving a 6 1/2-year sentence at a Louisiana prison camp.
Siegelman attended a Monday hearing in Montgomery before Land while shackled and wearing a red jail jumpsuit. The former Democratic governor is arguing his 2006 trial was tainted by the involvement of a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics. His lawyers also say the trial judge made legal mistakes when sentencing Siegelman.
Then-U.S. Attorney Leura Canary announced her recusal from the investigation in 2002, three years before Siegelman was indicted, after Siegelman’s lawyer made an issue of her husband’s work in GOP politics. Siegelman’s lawyers argued she still remained improperly involved in the case.
Justice Department lawyer John-Alex Romano argued Canary had no decision-making role in the case and handled only the management duties of her office.
In his order, Land expressed concern over some of the issues raised by Siegelman, particularly that the court did not let him investigate the extent of Canary’s involvement. Land said there was some evidence that Canary did not completely “divorce” herself from the case, and he believes the trial court should have let Siegelman get more information through documents or testimony.
However, he said that the 11th Circuit ruled against similar discovery requests by Scrushy, and Siegelman had not proven why the appeals court would rule any differently for him.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.