Zach Scruggs returns to Miss.

John O'Brien Feb. 26, 2009, 12:34pm

TUPELO, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - The son of disgraced plaintiffs attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs is out of an Arkansas prison and back in Mississippi.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Thursday that Zach Scruggs has been moved to a community re-entry facility in Tupelo as he prepares to rejoin society. Zach, a partner at Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, was sentenced to 14 months in prison for having knowledge of but not reporting the judicial bribery scheme that landed his father a five-year sentence.

Zach pleaded guilty in March, then reported to prison Aug. 15. The projected date of his release is Aug. 19, the report says.

Dickie first made a name for himself in asbestos cases, representing shipyard workers. After that, his work led to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which has an estimated worth of $246 billion for the 52 participating territories and states.

After 2005's Hurricane Katrina, he 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 SKG $26.5 million in attorneys fees. John Griffin Jones filed suit against Scruggs, claiming his firm was shortchanged when the money was divided.

Scruggs admitted that he gave the go-ahead for attorney Timothy Balducci to offer $50,000 to Lackey for a ruling that would have sent the dispute to an arbitration panel. Balducci pleaded guilty in Nov. 2007 to the scheme, and his business partner Steven Patterson, a former state Auditor, soon followed.

Lackey contacted the FBI soon after Balducci's first mention of a bribe. Scruggs agreed to a maximum prison sentence of five years, pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge while the other five were dropped.

Biggers fined each $250,000 and ordered them to pay the costs of their incarcerations.

Scruggs recently pleaded guilty to another bribery scheme that involves Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter.

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