Siegelman and three others indicted

Don Siegelman
Don Siegelman
Richard Scrushy
Richard Scrushy

It's the end of months of discussion on Don Siegelman's business and legal dealings, and the beginning of a new round of criminal charges for the former Governor.

A federal grand jury has produced a thirty count indictment with accusations going back to the time before Siegelman was governor, when he was Lt. Governor, running for the state's highest office.

It covers more than six years of Siegelman's public life - and it included well known politicians and former Healthsouth CEO Richard Scrushy.  In short, it's the bombshell many people waited months for.

"We're here to announce the indictment of former Governor Don Siegelman and and his former Chief of Staff Paul Hamrick," said acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin.

Grand jurors handed up a large indictment both in size and power. Prosecutors have charged Siegelman with 30 criminal counts based not only on his time as governor but before then.

"The question is not how much went to him personally. The question is how much corrupt payments were made to him and to his campaign," Franklin said.

At its core, the document accuses Siegelman of five major federal crimes. Racketeering, extortion, bribery, money laundering and then, obstruction of justice.

Noel Hillman is a special Federal Prosecutor working on government corruption issues. He's part of the prosecution team.

"There's no such thing as a small bribe, and there's no such thing as a minor violation of the public trust," he said.

Prosecutors say on multiple occasions, Siegelman shook down people who wanted to do business with the state. Among the highest profile - former Healthsouth CEO and accused coconspirator Richard Scrushy. Investigators say Siegelman got half a million dollars from Scrushy for a place on the state's hospital certificate of need board.

Investigators say Siegelman targeted small businesses, too, and that he demanded 100 thousand dollars from the owner of a highway striping business to name indicted coconspirator Mack Roberts as the Director of Transportation. In exchange, the business got millions in state contracts.

Franklin says the huge case began with one small complaint.

"It started with this one voice saying, you should look into this GH construction matter," he said.

For the extortion charge, investigators say the governor threatened other people who wouldn't go along with the scheme, saying if they didn't play ball, he'd end all their state business.

And then there's the obstruction of justice charge. Prosecutors say Siegelman had his aides write checks to possible witnesses to keep them from talking to investigators. That includes one man who has cooperated with investigators and has testified, Montgomery developer Lanny Young.

Federal prosecutors could not say when or where Siegelman and his co-defendants will face trial. That's up to the federal courts system's schedules.