Former Ala. Governor Freed From Prison

By: AP
By: AP

OAKDALE, La. - Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was released on bond from a federal prison Friday, saying he remains upbeat despite serving nine months for corruption.

Leaving the prison in a black sport utility vehicle, he stopped on a road outside the lockup to comment. He wore a ragged shirt that appeared to be prison clothing.

"I may have lost my freedom for awhile, but I never lost faith," Siegelman, 62, told reporters.

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Siegelman should be released while he appeals his conviction.

He declined further comment, saying, "I want to be with my family for a few days." But he said he would make a statement when he reaches his home in Birmingham, Ala.

Siegelman was placed in federal custody after being sentenced last June to more than seven years in prison for bribery-related counts and one obstruction of justice count.

The House Judiciary Committee also has announced that it wants to hear Siegelman's views when it probes claims of selective prosecution by the Justice Department.

Siegelman has maintained that certain Republicans targeted him after he was elected governor in 1998. The House committee has begun reviewing his case as part of a broader investigation into allegations of political meddling in federal prosecutions.

The committee hopes to hear from Siegelman in May.

Federal prosecutors accused Siegelman of appointing then-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery.

Scrushy, who was tried along with Siegelman, also was convicted on bribery counts and is serving a sentence of nearly seven years. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the multimillionaire Birmingham businessman is a potential flight risk, but that Siegelman is not.

Siegelman also was convicted of a separate obstruction of justice charge concerning $9,200 he received from a lobbyist to help with the purchase of a motorcycle. His attorneys have said it was a legitimate transaction.

Chief prosecutor Louis Franklin said he was disappointed by the ruling, but still expects the appellate court will rule against Siegelman's appeal.

The appeals process had been delayed for months after the court reporter during the trial died and the transcript was not completed as it normally would have.


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