Mukasey says Siegelman prosecution probe a priority

By Chris Rizo | Jul 9, 2008

Michael Mukasey

Don Siegelman

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Justice Department's investigation into the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman should be completed by the end of January, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said.

"I have no reason to believe anybody is slow-rolling this one," Mukasey told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Mukasey said the probe should be completed by the time President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Last month, a bipartisan group of 54 former state attorneys general have filed a brief with a federal appeals court in support of Siegelman, who some believe the Justice Department prosecuted for political reasons.

The attorneys general said the federal government's prosecution of Siegelman, a Democrat, "raised serious First Amendment concerns."

The attorneys general are asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to overturn Siegelman's bribery conviction. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In late March, Siegelman was released on bond by appeals court pending his appeal.

Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were convicted in 2006 of bribery, among other charges.

Federal prosecutors accused Siegelman of appointing Scrushy to a state regulatory board that oversees hospitals in exchange for Scrushy arranging for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery.

Siegelman was the governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003. He served as the state's attorney general before being elected as governor.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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