The last defendant in the bribery case that brought down powerful plaintiffs' attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs — his son — pleaded guilty Friday in a deal with federal prosecutors that could keep him out of prison.
Zach Scruggs pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, which means he had knowledge of a felony but didn't report it. He, his father and three others were originally charged with conspiring to bribe a judge in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees.
In federal court in Oxford, Scruggs said Friday that he had no knowledge of an attempt to bribe the judge and would have stopped it if he had known. However, he said he knew that another lawyer had "improper contacts" with the judge and that he had a duty to report them.
"I am truly and humbly sorry for that, and I apologize to the court, to the legal profession I love so deeply, and to the people of the state of Mississippi," Scruggs told U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers, according to a transcript of the proceedings.
"Of course," Biggers responded, "the legal profession that you say you love so much, you will not be a part of it the rest of your life."
Misprision of a felony carries a three-year maximum prison sentence, but prosecutors are recommending probation for Zach Scruggs, 33. He could also be fined up to $250,000. Biggers said he expected to sentence Zach Scruggs in about six to eight weeks.