More Accusations Against Indicted Former Judge - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/05/03

More Accusations Against Indicted Former Judge

The story started with a disputed slot payoff in 1997, stretching to the state supreme court and Justice Oliver Diaz. Oliver Diaz and former Harrison County Circuit Judge John Whitfield are under federal indictment on fraud and bribery charges.

Court papers filed this week by Grand Casino alleged Whitfield tried to strike a "money for a verdict deal" with the casino. It's a deal that sounds very similar to the federal indictment.

Whitfield allegedly told then Grand executive Tom Brosig, if the casino paid off his campaign debt, Whitfield would rule in favor of the Grand. The court papers also say Brosig told Whitfield neither he nor the Grand would pay off the judge's debts. Whitfield later ruled against Grand Casino and the case then went to the state Supreme Court.

That's where Justice Oliver Diaz enters this story. Diaz wrote the majority opinion, upholding Whitfield's ruling against the Grand.

Attorneys for Grand Casino did not return our phone calls. And we could not reach Tom Brosig. John Whitfield's attorney however, issued a statement, denying the accusations. Michael Crosby said "common sense should tell you that if Whitfield would have done what these people claim he did, someone involved would have spoke up years ago."

How all this impacts the federal case against Whitfield and Diaz, we don't know. No one from the U.S. Attorney's office returned our calls. As for the lawsuit over the disputed slot winnings, the Grand is asking for another hearing in circuit court. That brings up a jurisdictional question.

Warren Conway, the attorney representing the jackpot winner says, "Basically, what they're (the Grand Casino) is doing is asking Judge (Steve) Simpson to overrule the Supreme Court."

byMarcia Hill

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