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Scruggs I and II erupt: Some notes on the November 2007-January 2008

During the trial this week, three FBI interview memos surfaced for the first time:  2 interviews with Bobby DeLaughter and an interview with Ed Peters.  All of them occurred in mid-December of 2007.  To fully appreciate the context of these interviews, a timeline of events in late November of 2007 through early January of 2008 is important.  It might also be helpful to relative newcomers.

Unless noted otherwise, this timeline is based on one I did on the old Folo blog, which has a few more details.  There are links there for sources, although those to the Clarion Ledger won’t work any more because they remove things from the web after about a week.

  • Monday, November 26:  Saying he had spent Thanksgiving with 30 family members that, “I just realized, I’ve missed those opportunities to spend with my family,” Trent Lott announces he is retiring from the Senate.  He noted that he and his wife had been to the First Baptist Church in Jackson and heard a sermon based on Scripture that said there is “a time for everything under Heaven,” Lott said. “It seemed to be speaking to us,” he said.
  • Tuesday, November 27:  The FBI searches the Scruggs Law Firm.  Joey Langston arrives and talks to the press in front of the building during the search, and states that  the F.B.I. is looking for a particular document in a Katrina case that they did not find.
  • Wednesday, November 28:  The indictments of Dickie and Zach Scruggs, Tim Balducci, and Steve Patterson for bribery in Scruggs I are unsealed and the defendants (except Balducci) arraigned.  According to Langston’s testimony in Scruggs II, at the arraignment, Tom Dawson took Langston aside and said that Langston was implicated in some other-crime evidence that the Government might use in the trial.  Langston claimed not to know what case it could be.  The next day, Langston makes a statement to the press about Scruggs I.  By Friday, the word on the street is that Balducci had flipped.  He plead guilty on Wednesday, December 5th.
  • Either Saturday, December 1 or 8:  According to Curtis Wilkie’s book, “on a dreary Saturday in early December” after the arraignments and before the search of Langston’s office, Langston and Patterson fly to Jackson to meet with Peters and talk about Wilson. Paterson also asks about help from Peters on Scruggs I.Peters says, “Boys, I’d cut my own throat for you,” then makes a slashing gesture across his neck.  Note to self:  Examine the question of whether this outing is consistent with Langston’s testimony that it took him some time to figure out what the other crime evidence was about.
  • Monday, December 10: Langston office searched by Feds.   Weirdly, on December 11th, Jim Hood made a statement distancing himself from Balducci but embracing Langston: “Our contracts have been with the Langston Law Firm, not directly with Timothy Balducci,” Hood says through a spokeswoman. On the same day, Bobby DeLaughter has a talk with the FBI in his chambers in Raymond.
  • Tuesday, December 11:  Ed Peters has a talk with the FBI.  The visits to Peters and DeLaughter seem pretty clearly surprise visits and neither has a lawyer.  It’s not clear whether Peters had been given a heads-up from DeLaughter that he’d had a visit the day before.
  • Sunday, December 17:  Jerry Mitchell goes public that the FBI focus has turned to Wilson v. Scruggs, Peters, and DeLaughter.
  • Wednesday, December 20:  Bobby DeLaughter talks to the FBI again. This time he has a lawyer present.  He still hasn’t quite figured out that talking to the FBI is a dangerous gambit.
  • Wednesday, December 20:  Jerry Mitchell reports that DeLaughter has received a grand jury subpoena.
  • Sometime before Christmas, according to Curtis Wilkie’s book, Peters and his lawyer go in and he begins negotiating to cooperate.  Also in this period, according to Langston’s testimony in Zach’s Scruggs I hearing, Langston starts looking for a national-level criminal defense lawyer.  He also testified that serious plea negotiations did not begin until after the first, just days before he struck a deal.
  • Tuesday, January 8:  Langston enters his secret plea agreement.  The Clarion-Ledger reports that the grand jury is meeting this week in Oxford and DeLaughter is scheduled to testify before it. He is later reported to have said that he knew that an attempt had been made to influence his orders and that he is not sure whether he was influenced.
  • Wednesday, January 10:  Patterson enters his plea agreement.  It was unsealed four days later.  Three days later, someone in comments on the Folo blog says that he’s heard Peters had been granted immunity.  Patterson entered a plea five days later.

I’ll post next about what they said in the interviews.

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