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Don Siegelman to be freed as early as Wednesday

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, February 7, 2017, the friends and family of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D) announced that the Governor could return home as soon as Wednesday. The former Governor will remain on strict probation until his sentence runs out this summer. Siegelman’s supporters have been asking that the former Governor be pardoned by the Administration of Barack H. Obama (D). That motion was denied literally in the last hours of the Obama Administration.

In 1998 Siegelman defeated incumbent Gov. Fob James (R). Siegelman was defeated seeking a second term in 2002 by then Congressman Bob Riley (R).

Following his term as Governor, an investigation by the US Department of Justice raised questions about the ethical conduct of Siegelman while Governor. The feds brought one case against Siegelman; but Federal judge U. W. Clemon threw most of the evidence out of court on technicalities leading to those charges being dropped.

Federal prosecutors brought a second set of charges against Siegelman. This time they accused him of accepting $500,000 for his lottery campaign from Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy (who himself had earlier been acquitted on federal charges of falsifying Healthsouth financial statements). Federal prosecutors argued that the money was a quid pro quo bribe in order to get Scrushy back on the Certificate of Need Board so that Scrushy could lobby the other members of the Board to grant him a permit to build Healthsouth’s new digital hospital on US Highway 280 near the I-459 junction.

Siegelman got his money to advertise a controversial lottery plan; but the widely criticized state lottery plan was rejected by state voters. Scrushy received a certificate of need to build the new hospital in Birmingham near the Shelby County line; but was removed from Healthsouth after it was revealed that his company had been submitting financial statements that dramatically inflated the company’s earnings. The unfinished digital hospital was ultimately old to Trinity, who finished the project and moved their operations there. The defense acknowledged the facts of the case but argued that this was not bribery and not corruption; but jurors found Siegelman and Scrushy both guilty. Mutliple appeals by Siegelman have failed to overturn that verdict.

Gov. Siegelman is finishing a 78 month sentence, most of which was spent e in Oakdale Federal Prison in Louisiana.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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