US Supreme Court rejects appeal from former Alabama governor
Jan 13, 2016 01:10 AM EST
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman's appeal of his conviction on bribery and obstruction of justice involving a $500,000 donation from a healthcare executive. The high court did not give a reason for the rejection.
Siegelman, governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003, had challenge his 6 ½ year sentence in the case, arguing that a former U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who presided over Siegelman's trial, miscalculated his sentence.
More than 100 former attorneys general from both parties signed a brief in support of Siegelman's sentencing argument in October, saying Fuller wrongly factored charges into the sentence that the jury did not convict the governor on, Montgomery Advertiser reported.
But the Federal Court did not agree with the amicus brief. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the former governor's motion, saying they were bound by their 2013 ruling in the case of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, Siegelman's co-defendant. The three judge panel wrote Fuller made no error in calculating the governor's sentence.
Joseph Siegelman, the former governor's son and one of his defense attorneys said, "Don Siegelman believes a person should not serve time in prison for conduct a jury finds them innocent of. Astonishingly, America's highest court disagrees." Joseph Siegelman said that the appeal would not have exonerated the defendant even when the court had taken the case and ruled in his favor.
In 2006, Don Siegelman was convicted of conspiracy, bribery, mail fraud and obstruction of justice linked to a $500,000 bribery arrangement provided for Siegelman's unsuccessful campaign to persuade Alabama voters to create a state lottery, Reuters reported.
A HealthSouth Corp's founder and former CEO, Richard Scrushy, was convicted of bribery for giving the $500,000 in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board.
Siegelman was also alleged to hide a $9,200 payment for a motorcycle from a friend and supporter.
The jury found Siegelman not guilty on bribery and other charges, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Siegelman's sentence, which included an enhancement for "systematic and pervasive corruption," TimesDaily reported.
Siegelman was one of the target of politically motivated prosecution spearheaded by Republicans. He asserted that a federal prosecutor whose husband was involved in Republican politics marred his trial. The former governor claimed his prosecution was politically motivated.
Siegelman is incarcerated at a federal prison in Louisiana, and is scheduled for release in August 2017. The former governor's supporters have urged President Barack Obama to commute his sentence.