Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Advertiser Editorial: Siegelman fights on

Montgomery Advertiser

Advertiser Editorial: Siegelman fights on

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman just can't seem to persuade federal judges that he is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt and did nothing that other politicians don't do routinely.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let stand five of the corruption counts outstanding against Siegelman and four counts against former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy. The appeals court tossed out two bribery counts against each of them. The 11th Circuit rejected a request for a new trial based on claims of jury misconduct.

That is a victory of sorts for both the former Democratic governor and the former high-riding executive. Scrushy has seen his fortune siphoned away to repay HealthSouth shareholders after he lost a $2.9 billion civil lawsuit alleging he benefited when the company was defrauded, even though he was not criminally convicted for the fraud.

The court already had thrown out the two counts against Siegelman. But this time the court said the two must be resentenced because of the reduced number of counts, according to The Associated Press.

That suggests that both Siegelman and Scrushy will see their sentences reduced. Siegelman was sentenced in 2006 to more than seven years in federal prison, and Scrushy to a little less than seven years. If Scrushy's sentence is substantially reduced, he could conceivably be close to having served all of his time in prison.

But that is less likely for Siegelman. After serving nine months of his sentence, Siegelman has been free pending appeal.

Despite the possibility that his sentence could be reduced, Siegelman did not sound like a victor when he talked with the AP Tuesday: "This does not come as a surprise. This whole thing has been a disappointment."

Siegelman has claimed throughout that he was singled out by the U.S. Justice Department for political reasons. Despite conspiracy theories galore, neither Congress -- which was pushed to investigate -- nor the courts have bought into those theories.

Siegelman promises to continue his appeals, but he is quickly running out of options.

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