More on USA v. Scruggs
With yesterday's post on this case, I didn't include the appendix to the prosecutors' filing. I should have. For those who have been following this case, the appendix, which contains an "Outline of Known Facts," is sure to be of high interest. Click here to read the appendix, which contains the following allegations (my comments to the allegations are given in italics):
- The Rigsby sisters, using "State Farm laptops, confidential passwords to State Farm databases, and access to State Farm's claims offices," "wrongly" and "in violation" of their confidentiality agreements with State Farm contractor E.A. Renfroe, copied the insurer's claims documents. No doubt in their minds that the Rigsby sisters acted improperly, even though the underlying civil case continues -- Judge Acker's injunction merely decided there was a likelihood of success on the merits, and did not definitively decide the merits of the case. The prosecutors, however, are free to make their own inferences from the evidence, and there wouldn't appear to be a great deal of controversy over the proposition that confidentiality agreements do not allow an employee to take claims documents and feed them to a party who is opposing State Farm in litigation.
- In February 2006, the Rigsby sisters secretly met with Dickie Scruggs and gave him "wrongfully acquired" documents. In their brief filed Friday, the prosecutors used the word "purloined" to describe these documents. At that meeting, the prosecutors said, "they 'hired' him as their attorney; thereafter involving the privilege to shield their conversations." Interesting use of quotation marks around the word "hired," isn't it? One reading could be the prosecutors are merely observing that Scruggs wound up paying all the money to the clients -- not the normal direction of the flow of funds when lawyers get involved. Another is that prosecutors believe the whole attorney-client relationship was a scam. Will they make a case for the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege? I wonder what they would find in records?
- The Rigsby sisters, while at home in early June 2006, "wrongfully downloaded and photocopied approximately 5,000 - 15,000 State Farm claims documents." They claimed, in court testimony in the civil case brought against them by Renfroe, that no one knew about this "data dump" except some friends enlisted to help them. The prosecutors clearly don't believe this is true -- they note that on a Monday morning, following the weekend's copying, the sisters supposedly called the Mississippi AG's office and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jackson, who the very same day and supposedly with no prior notice, each sent someone to retrieve these documents. If you, as a private citizen, have ever tried to get the government to do something quickly, much less make house calls, you might share in the prosecutors' skepticism.
- "Contrary to their assertion under oath," the Rigsbies' answer in the Renfroe case said Scruggs told them to give the documents to the AG and the U.S. Attorney. Contrary to this admission, Scruggs himself "has denied any involvement with these deliveries to law enforcement officials." Crikey! Are the prosecutors looking to get someone tagged with a perjury rap? What's the scope of potential charges these special prosecutors can bring, is it limited just to criminal contempt of court?
- "Not later than July 1, 2006, the Rigsbys went to work for Scruggs as 'consultants' at annual salaries of $150,000, with no set hours and for the purpose of aiding the Scruggs Katrina Groups' litigation." Note the quotes around "consultants." The prosecutors are not the first to raise an eyebrow at this arrangement. But they use quotation marks in ways that could be interpreted either to be pejorative or as merely denoting what someone said, so it's not an exact science to get a read on what they mean all the time. It appears they think this arrangement stinks, but beyond that, I can't say for sure.
- Following Judge Acker's entry of the injunction on December 8, 2006, which required the "purloined" documents to be returned to Renfroe's counsel under a protective order keeping them from Renfroe and State Farm, the Rigsbies filed an immediate appeal, even though they then maintained they weren't in possession of the documents and couldn't return them because Scruggs had them. However, the Rigsbies "reportedly requested [Scruggs] to return the documents as ordered by the Court."
- Immediately after the injunction was entered, Scruggs and Mississippi AG Hood had at least two conversations, in which it "was decided that the Attorney General's office would send a letter to Scruggs requesting that Scruggs send his copy of the documents (which the AG already had a copy of) to the AG rather than delivering them to Renfroe's counsel . . . ." Does it seem rash to anyone for Jim Hood to have taken part in a conversation such as this involving a federal judge's injunction?
One of Hood's assistants, on December 12, 2006, e-mailed Scruggs a letter asking for the Rigsbies' copy of the documents because "I am not comfortable that the protective measures put in place by the Court will be effective in keeping these documents out of the grasp of State Farm." Upon reflection or further internal discussion, a few hours later she sent another e-mail letter saying the first was hasty, and suggesting Scruggs was supposed to obtain permission from the Court before sending any documents to the AG's office. That first letter is pretty remarkable, don't you think? I can see why the second one followed so quickly.
After the first letter arrived but before the second did, Scruggs said he sent the Rigsby documents to the AG's office. If ever need to get a package out of my office pronto, remind me to ask the assistance of the Scruggs Katrina Group. Scruggs did not ask the AG's office to send the documents back, nor did Hood send them back. It seems the prosecutors are focusing on this as one of the key elements showing what they say is Scruggs' plan to violate the injunction.
- After the announcement of the settlement of a large class action lawsuit with State Farm, "Scruggs made an about face and requested the return of the Rigsbys/Scruggs documents from Attorney General Hood . . . ." However, Scruggs later wrote to Hood requesting a copy of all the documents that the Rigsbies had previously given to Hood. That law enforcement exception in the injunction was pretty big, apparently. So big, it might have been enough to just have a picture of Hood in Scruggs' wallet.
- "When the Rigsbys were sued, they did not assert in their answer that they no longer possessed the documents, nor did they raise this as a defense at that time. Only after the Injunction was issued did the Rigsbys disclaim possession or control over the documents. It was also only then that Scruggs claimed that he was not subject to the Injunction and thus free to do whatever he chose to do with the documents. This maneuver also appears to be a part of the sham designed to avoid compliance while supposedly protecting both Scruggs and the Rigsbys from liability for contempt of court." You remember how the Scruggs Katrina Group has frequently pointed out that a State Farm claims supervisor asserted the Fifth when she was deposed? Who, if anyone, will assert the Fifth in this case?
The special prosecutors in the criminal contempt of court case against prominent Mississippi lawyer Dickie Scruggs have unveiled more of their evidence against Scruggs in federal court filings in Alabama. Prosecutors accuse Scruggs of willfully violati...
i suggest the government look into scruggs' past pracice of passing stolen tobacco documents to government officials to avoid injunctions