Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

Petition President Obama to pardon Don Siegelman

Written by Julian Phillips | Montgomery Advertiser

I grieve not only for Don Siegelman and his family but for Alabama over how badly our former governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state has been treated in his 49-day round trip journey from Oakdale Prison in Louisiana to Montgomery.

Mr. Siegelman was shackled, handcuffed, chained, "box"-ed and locked before each trip of this seven-week journey, which consisted of five buses, five vans and three airplanes. He was contained by over 70 U.S. marshals and countless jail and prison officers.

He was taken to Oklahoma twice, to Jacksonville, Fla., to Harrisburg, Pa., and to Altanta twice. He was also in the Montgomery County jail three times.

Don was always kept in solitary confinement. The Montgomery jail cell was all steel, except for the cement floor, and the lights were never off.

If one treated an animal that badly and inhumanely, there would be a cruelty to animals criminal charge against the perpetrator. A normal drive by car would have taken seven hours from Oakdale to Montgomery. How much more did it cost the federal government in seven weeks with 70 marshals?

It's also been six months now since I complained to the Federal Bureau of Prisons about how a $250 check I sent Don at its Iowa headquarters was embezzled by the Prison Bureau itself. The Montgomery bank from whom I obtained the cashier's check has proof the check was deposited into a Cleveland account -- someone else's account. Siegelman never got it.

I've complained repeatedly to the U.S. Justice Department, to the FBP itself and to other law enforcement sources, but never got a response. Welcome to the federal prison system, a law unto itself.

I don't agree with Don Siegelman on everything, but this hard-working man gave his blood, sweat, tears, life and energy for over 30 years to make Alabama a better place for its citizens. This is no way to treat the worst of our criminals, much less someone who did much good for our state.

Don't forget that Don Siegelman was convicted of bribery because of two large contributions Richard Scrushy helped obtain, not from Scrushy's own pocket but from two corporations.

The money didn't go to Siegelman personally, nor to his election campaign, but to retire the debt of a statewide lottery campaign. That lottery, by the way, had it been successful, would have contributed millions to public schools in Alabama. What a terrible crime Don committed.

All Richard Scrushy allegedly received was reappointment to a state board on which he had served on for many years under three previous governors. Scrushy didn't even want the appointment, he insisted to me, because he was tired of serving on the board.

I urge Americans everywhere, and especially Alabamians, to write President Obama and urge him to commute Siegelman's sentence, and halt this grave injustice and inhumane treatment to which Don has been so painfully subjected. Rise up, write and be heard.

Julian McPhillips practices law in Montgomery. He once represented Richard Scrushy in civil matters unrelated to the Siegelman case.

Link to original article from Montgomery Advertiser

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