Judicial Bribery Trial Ends With Guilty Verdicts On All Counts - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Judicial Bribery Trial Ends With Guilty Verdicts On All Counts

For now, it means another long wait behind bars for Minor. He's been locked up since September for violating the terms of his bond and not adhering to the rules of his house arrest.

Now he'll have to wait until mid June for sentencing, as will Whitfield and Teel, who remain free on appeal bonds. But with jail sentences hanging over their heads, lawyers for the three men aren't wasting any time getting back in court to appeal the convictions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan, called it a quote "banner day for the judicial system in Mississippi."

All while attorneys for the three were expressing confidence in getting the verdicts against Coast Attorney Paul Minor, former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancellor Wes Teel overturned.

Prosecutors convinced jurors during the two-month trial that Minor used cash, checks and gifts to secure favorable rulings from Whitfield and Teel. 

They say that in 1998, Minor guaranteed $140,000 in loans to Whitfield, then tried to conceal the fact that Minor paid off the loan himself.  

That same year, they say Minor guaranteed a loan to Teel for $24,500. Whitfield awarded Minor $3.6 million in a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Teel awarded Minor a $1.5 million settlement in another case. 

Minor acknowledges guaranteeing loans for the judges, but he claims he was only helping friends who had fallen on hard times and expected nothing in return.  

The former judges were convicted of bribery and mail fraud. Minor was convicted of 11 counts, ranging from racketeering to bribery. Minor faces a maximum 95-year sentence, Whitfield could get 50 years, and Teel could be sentenced up to 25 years.

Now George Lucas, Teel's attorney, told reporters after the verdicts were announced that he had good grounds for an appeal and Minor himself was overheard saying, quote, "I'm going to get it reversed on appeal."

We talked to Whitfield's attorney Michael Crosby Saturday afternoon, and he says his client will appeal as well. Crosby says he has issues with several rulings in the case, including the judge not allowing testimony from 2 of his expert witnesses.

Attorney's have 10 days after sentencing to file appeals. Sentencing is set for June 14th. Now he'll have to wait until mid June for sentencing, as will Whitfield and Teel, who remain free on appeal bonds.

But with jail sentences hanging over their heads, lawyers for the three men aren't wasting any time getting back in court to appeal the convictions.

By Don Culpepper

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