Judicial Bribery Sentencing To Continue Friday

Sentencing proceedings for attorney Paul Minor and former Judges John Whitfield and Wes Teel resumed Thursday morning in federal court in Jackson. The three were convicted earlier this year. Paul Minor faces up to 95 years in prison, on charges ranging from racketeering to bribery. Teel and Whitfield each face up to 25 and 50 years respectively, on charges on bribery and mail fraud.

Thursday's testimony centered around the finances of the two former judges and attorney.

Prosecutors asked about earnings John Whitfield expected to get from his work on behalf of the family of Jessie Lee Williams, Junior. Whitfield is entitled to a portion of the settlement he and attorney Michael Crosby reached between the Williams family and Harrison County and the City of Gulfport.

A sticking point in court was whether Crosby would have to reveal the amount coming from the Gulfport settlement. The city's agreement with the Williams family was sealed by a judge on the coast. After calling that judge, Federal Judge Henry Wingate decided that number would not be revealed in court.

There were many questions about Minor's finances, specifically about assets prosecutors believe Minor neglected to list on court documents. Government lawyers accused Minor of an improper transfer of property, saying in the month before Minor was indicted on bribery charges, he put a $4.5 million home in Utah in his wife's name. Judge Wingate ruled there was no evidence the deed transfer was improper.

Other questions surrounded Minor's earnings from Mississippi's tobacco settlement. Minor worked with attorney Dickie Scruggs on that case in the late 1990s. Minor's attorneys disputed information Scruggs gave the court that he and Minor were getting $5 million a year for 20 years from that case. Government prosecutors say Minor intentionally did not reveal the tobacco money on his probation form, which required him to list money he's owed as well as his assets.

Judge Wingate broke for lunch and time to sort out some of the financial questions as well as scheduling conflicts. Sentencing will continue Friday morning at 9am.