Scruggs reports to prison, begins five-year sentence
ASHLAND, Ky. (Legal Newsline)-Convicted trial attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs reported Monday to a federal prison in Kentucky.
Scruggs, a once-famed plaintiffs' attorney who made millions through class action lawsuits, is beginning a five-year prison sentence for conspiring to bribe a judge with $50,000.
He was convicted of conspiring to offer the money to Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey in exchange for a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.
U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. sentenced Scruggs, 62, in June.
Scruggs, who practiced law in downtown Oxford, Miss., gained legal stardom by litigating asbestos cases, where he represented shipyard workers.
He was hired by then-Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore to pursue a case against tobacco companies on behalf of the State, and his work led to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
The settlement has an estimated worth of $246 billion for the 52 participating territories and states.
Moore helped defend Scruggs' son and law partner, Zach, against charges filed for his role in the bribery conspiracy.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the elder Scruggs grouped together a handful of law firms to create the Scruggs Katrina Group.
The group represented insurance policyholders who believed their insurance companies were misrepresenting the amount of damage done to their properties by wind (covered by the policy) and water (covered by a federal program).
More than 600 cases were settled early in 2007, earning the Scruggs Katrina Group $26.5 million in attorneys' fees.