MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Former Gov. Don Siegelman and former Health South CEO Richard Scrushy were convicted Thursday in a bribery scheme that derailed Siegelman’s campaign to retake his former office.

Siegelman, 60, was accused of trading government favors for campaign donations when he was governor from 1999 to 2003 and lieutenant governor from 1995 to 1999.

Scrushy was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery in exchange for a seat on a regulatory board.

The case was tried as Siegelman sought the Democratic nomination for governor, and the trial put him in court during the final weeks of the campaign. He lost to Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley in the June 6 Democratic primary and blamed the charges for his defeat.

Siegelman and Scrushy sat on the edge of their seats but showed no emotion as the verdict was read. The governor’s former chief of staff, who was acquitted, bowed his head and nodded “thank you” to the jury.

Prosecutors described a “pay-to-play” scheme in which campaign donations were necessary to participate in government projects.

But defense attorneys said the case was based on the testimony of former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, lobbyist Lanny Young and toll bridge developer Jim Allen, who they called “scam artists and liars.”

Defense attorneys said that Young and Bailey, who have both pleaded guilty, lied on the witness stand in hopes of getting light sentences, and that Allen lied to keep from being charged.

Prosecutors claimed Siegelman and his chief of staff, Paul Hamrick, received gifts, including a Honda motorcycle for the governor that he allegedly tried to conceal from investigators. Hamrick reportedly received $25,000 for a new luxury BMW automobile.

The verdict effectively ended any future political ambitions for Siegelman, a prominent Democrat who was elected secretary of state, attorney general and lieutenant governor before winning the state’s top office in 1998.

The trial also came one year after Scrushy was acquitted of criminal charges in a massive accounting fraud scandal at his former company in Birmingham.

The jury returned the verdicts after 11 days of deliberations, convicting both men of bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Siegelman was also convicted of obstruction of justice, but was acquitted on 25 other counts, including racketeering and extortion.

Hamrick and former state transportation director Mack Roberts were acquitted on all charges.



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