Sidney Backstrom, an Oxford attorney ensnared in the judicial bribery scheme that brought down famed lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, is objecting to how strongly federal prosecutors want him punished for his role in it.
Filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Backstrom’s attorneys’ motion says his punishment should be based on a much lower financial “benefit” level and participation level than the Pre-sentencing Report apparently requests. The PSR is not a public document.
In a 16-page objection, Backstrom’s attorneys say the government is wrong to claim:
– Backstrom supervised or had control over co-defendants, former New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and former state Auditor Steven Patterson.
– The “benefit” of the bribe is about $5.3 million – “benefit” being what the co-defendants would have gained with a successful bribe of Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.
– Backstrom was more than a “roll up the sleeves worker” for Scruggs, a leader in the conspiracy and that he drafted an e-mail order for Balducci to give to Lackey.
Backstrom’s objections to the report will be considered by Senior Judge Neal Biggers. His motion suggests the PSR seeks a punishment three times greater than he thinks it should be – which could translate into more prison time and a greater fine, if Biggers agrees.
When Backstrom pleaded guilty to one count March 14, the government recommended he receive not more than half of what punishment Dickie Scruggs got. For Scruggs, they recommended five years in prison.