Lackey stated under oath that after Balducci, who represented Scruggs in another attorneys fees dispute, had offered him a job and asked “a personal favor” on behalf of his “mighty good friends,” Lackey spoke with other colleagues and Assistant Third Circuit District Attorney Lon Stallings about the matter.
Stallings recommended reporting the improper overture to John Hailman, then Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford. Lackey said he didn’t report the overture to Hood because Moore had said that if Hood didn’t help Scruggs, possibly a reference to dismissing criminal charges against State Farm Insurance Cos., then Scruggs would find and support another candidate for attorney general.
The audience was shocked, as was Moore, who quietly let out a denial. The audience included the chief federal prosecutor on the Scruggs criminal trial, and most thought that the elderly white-haired judge had misspoke. Not so.
Later, Lackey seemed intent on clarifying Moore’s relationship to Scruggs and Hood. Lackey related that when he reported the egregious ethical violation to a district attorney that he intentionally did not inform Hood, because Stallings told him that Moore had been sent by Scruggs to relay to Hood that if Hood did not cooperate with action favorable to Scruggs in Katrina litigation, that Scruggs and friends would recruit and support another candidate for attorney general, like they were doing “for insurance commissioner”.
Lackey spoke of his recusing himself because he couldn’t bring himself to ask Balducci, his friend, for money, like FBI Agent Bill Delaney was asking him to do. After notifying Hailman of his decision to quit presiding over the case and participating as a wired informant for the FBI, Delaney was waiting in Lackey’s office after lunch the next day.
The conversation that ensued convinced Lackey that he didn’t realize “the monster we were dealing with” and Lackey re-entered the case and cooperated, “hoping against hope” that Balducci would not accept his overture for money. The federal target was obviously Scruggs. Lackey testified that he told Balducci, “I don’t want your money. I want Scruggs’ money.”
Lackey became emotional after defense counsel questioned his use of “monster” and turned to address the audience, “Don’t you think it is a monster, that has destroyed young men’s lives, and their families’ lives?”
One had to believe that Judge Lackey was referring not only to promising attorneys Balducci and Joey Langston, who is so beloved in his home town of Booneville, that the local newspaper featured an article on the grief of the community over the Langston and Balducci pleas to judicial bribery, but perhaps the engaging and personable young attorneys general whose reputations have been tarnished by the Scruggs association.
Langston and Balducci, campaign contributors of Hood’s, were given state contracts by Hood before their downfalls.