Siegelman Lawyers Seek Special Prosecutor

(AP) Attorneys for imprisoned former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on Monday called for a special prosecutor after a key government witness claimed that he was forced to write out his testimony to get his story straight.

Vince Kilborn, an attorney for Siegelman who contends Republican politics was behind the Democrat's prosecution, said the defense was never told of any written notes by Nick Bailey, a former Siegelman aide whose testimony was crucial to the government.

CBS's "60 Minutes" reported Sunday that Bailey said prosecutors met with him some 70 times and had him repeatedly write out his testimony because they were frustrated with his recollection of events.

Bailey, who pleaded guilty in the corruption case and served as a cooperating witness, was interviewed off-camera in prison by CBS, which reported in the segment: "He told us the prosecutors were so frustrated they made him write his proposed testimony over and over to get his story straight."

The written notes, if they existed, could have damaged the credibility of Bailey's story, Kilborn told The Associated Press.

Louis Franklin, the assistant U.S. attorney who led the Siegelman prosecution, called Bailey's claim "absolutely not true."

"We don't ask witnesses to write out their statements," Franklin said. "If Nick is saying he wrote out some notes, he did that on his own. He certainly did not share that with us."

Siegelman was convicted on six bribery-related and one obstruction of justice charge in 2006 and began serving a sentence of more than seven years last June. Bailey was the key witness who claimed Siegelman appointed then-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to a campaign for a state lottery spearheaded by Siegelman.

"We got certain interviews that showed Bailey was changing his testimony ... but 70 meetings is not close to what's reflected in those documents," Kilborn said.

Kilborn said the evidence would warrant a new trial and that he planned to make the request for a special prosecutor directly to Attorney General Michael Mukasey or President Bush. The Alabama Democratic Party, Siegelman's family and Scrushy attorney Art Leach joined the call for an outside investigator to look at the case.

The Justice Department declined to comment on their comments and said it would "respond appropriately" to concerns about Bailey's testimony if they are raised in court.

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