Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Corrupt Mississippi Judges and Former-Attorney who Bribed them Head Back to Prison

Attorney Paul Minor (left) Judges Whitfield and Teel
Friday I brought you the story of the former Mississippi Judges and the attorney who bribed them heading back to federal court for resentencing following reversal of that part of their convictions that related to the now-unconstitutional Honest Services law.  Former judges Teel, Whitfield and attorney Paul Minor are heading back to the federal prison following reductions in their sentences.  This is an excerpt from the Clarion-Ledger's reporter Jack Elliot's account:

Former Mississippi attorney Paul Minor saw his prison time cut by three years but failed to win his freedom Monday during resentencing in a judicial corruption scheme involving two ex-judges.

ex-attorney Paul Minor
All three were ordered back to federal lock-up.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate rejected the men's appeal to be sentenced to time already served in the case. But Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel, 60, and John Whitfield, 48, all will serve less time than when originally sentenced in 2007. All are in prison now.

Minor was originally sentenced to 11 years. Wingate reduced it to eight years.

He and the two former judges had to be resentenced because a federal appeals court vacated their bribery convictions in 2009. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld other convictions, including honest services fraud against each of the men and racketeering against Minor.

Abbe Lowell and Hiram Eastland successfully argued the federal bribery argument in the 5th Circuit that resulted in Minor's resentencing.

Prosecutors said Minor, 65, would guarantee loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the debts. Judges then ruled in his favor in civil cases. Minor has said the loans were meant to help friends in times of need and that he expected nothing in return.

Teel was sentenced to about four years in prison, a reduction of 19 months. Whitfield got about six years, a reduction of 22 months.

Teel and Whitfield already have served about 3 1/2 years each. Minor has served about four years and nine months, including time spent in treatment for alcohol abuse - rehabilitation ordered by Wingate.

[ . . . ] Earlier Monday, Minor told Wingate that he "deeply, deeply regretted" having let down his family, including his wife, Sylvia, who died in 2009.

Minor said his wife had told him to not get involved in politics, but he didn't listen.  "I am not the Paul Minor who was before you four years ago. I am a Paul Minor who is still a work in progress," he said. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said after the re-sentencing that [U.S. District Judge] Wingate "made it clear that these convictions were serious offenses and the sentences were to reflect the seriousness" of them [. . . ] ingate said he was impressed by the contrition shown by the three.

"You have with your conduct earned a reduction" in the sentence, Wingate said.

Wingate said he also was concerned about the health of Teel and Whitfield. He said both men have been receiving medical treatment while incarcerated.

Teel had suffered a heart attack shortly after entering prison in December 2007 and had heart surgery in January 2008.

Whitfield suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the intestinal wall. There is no cure.  I am not the Paul Minor who was before you four years ago. I am a Paul Minor who is still a work in progress," he said.   [Judge W]ingate said he expected Minor to continue to get treatment for substance abuse for the remainder of his sentence and have random drug testing under the direction of prison officials.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Fulcher said after the re-sentencing that Wingate "made it clear that these convictions were serious offenses and the sentences were to reflect the seriousness" of them.

The government had initially requested maximum sentences for the three men. Wingate said he would not do that, resentencing all three to terms that were less than those suggested in federal sentencing guidelines.

Wingate said he was impressed by the contrition shown by the three.

"You have with your conduct earned a reduction" in the sentence, Wingate said.

Wingate said he also was concerned about the health of [former judge]Winfield. He [noted that] both men [receive] medical treatment [in the BOP.]

Teel had suffered a heart attack shortly after entering prison in December 2007 and had heart surgery in January 2008.  hitfield suffers from Crohn's disease, which causes inflammation of the intestinal wall. There is no cure.
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This story should help in my continuing effort to disabuse you of the notion that life at the Club Fed is the high life.  It is often harsh, dangerous, and certainly objectively debilitating to older inmates' health.

Postscript: one of my commentators noted accurately that the "optical orange" uniforms are provided by the local jails when federal inmates are not actually in US Marshall custody, i.e. being housed local to US District Court.  In the case of Whitfield, Teel, and Minor the local county lockup. 

Optical orange is often used in-transit for the obvious reason that in the event of escape an inmate will (initially) be highly visible.  The stocking caps given to us at FCI, Morgantown over the winter were also optical orange while the uniforms are khaki.  But when I went to the HOLE/SHU, my uniforms (really all my property) were taken and I was given an oversize optical orange jumpsuit.

4 comments:

  1. Joey Langston should be listed here. He is the President of all the bottom feeder. Greedy piece of crap.

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  2. Wes Teel has a brother who is an attorney. Never hire him!

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  3. I've seen it up close and in person, this so called "Judge" Whitfield hasn't changed his ways at all. He continues to disregard the law. Once a thief, always a thief. He is still as greedy as they come.

    ReplyDelete