Patterson agrees to plead guilty in Mississippi judicial bribery case - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Patterson agrees to plead guilty in Mississippi judicial bribery case

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Two more key figures in a high-profile Mississippi judicial bribery case today (Monday) are cooperating with federal prosecutors in an investigation that has entangled wealthy and politically connected trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

Court papers released today show that former state Auditor Steve Patterson has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery of an elected state official, north Mississippi Circuit Judge Henry Lackey.

Patterson, Scruggs and Scruggs' son were among those indicted November 28th on charges of offering Lackey a bribe in a dispute over $26.5 million in attorneys' fees in Katrina litigation. Patterson is not an attorney but worked for a north Mississippi law firm.

The other important development today was the release of court papers showing that attorney Joey Langston of Booneville pleaded guilty January 7th to attempting to influence Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter in a 1994 asbestos lawsuit involving Scruggs.

DeLaughter hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing and he denies accepting any type of bribe.

For a few weeks after the November 28th indictments, Langston represented Scruggs on the bribery charges in the Katrina case.

Patterson is scheduled to appear in federal court in Oxford tomorrow (Tuesday) to enter his guilty plea to conspiring to bribe an elected state official.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Patterson, a Democrat, resigned as state auditor in 1996.

Scruggs does not face any new charges in the court papers made public today. A hearing in the bribery case is scheduled for Wednesday in Oxford.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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