Former Gov. Don Siegelman, who spent more than six years in federal prison for bribery, turned 71 Friday.
After two decades years in Alabama statewide elective office – eight as secretary of state and four each as attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor – was convicted in 2006 of bribery, and sentenced to 78 months in federal prison.
On February 8, Siegelman was released six months early from a facility in Oakdale, Louisiana, and is serving the remaining sentence in detention at his Vestavia Hills home. His conviction will officially end August 8.
“I feel like a refugee coming into New York,” Siegelman told friends and family after his release.
In 2006, both Siegelman and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy were convicted on bribery charges stemming from $500,000 Scrushy gave Siegelman’s campaign for his support in establishing an Alabama lottery and in exchange for being named to a state health board.
Initially, Siegelman faced an 88-month prison sentence in 2007; nine months after his arrest, however, he was released on bond and filed an appeal. Later, the court resentenced Siegelman for 78 months; he returned to jail September 2012, where he stayed until earlier this month.
AL.com reports that Siegelman will not be celebrating his birthday with a state pension – not because of his bribery conviction, but because of a 1901 statute in the Alabama Constitution that bans elected officials from receiving state retirement. A 1975 attempt to change the law to give then-Gov. George Wallace a pension was struck down as unconstitutional.