The suspense about whether Tim Balducci is cooperating with prosecutors in the Scruggs scandal is over. He is. Balducci changed his plea from not guilty to guilty last night (note the date of the filing, although this was not on PACER when I checked it late last night — interesting timing, coming just hours after his arraignment at 1:50 p.m. December 4 where he pleaded not guilty). Click here to see the plea agreement.
You may also want to note that the arraignment was not held in Oxford before Magistrate Judge Allan Alexander, like the other defendants, but rather in Aberdeen before Magistrate Judge Jerry Davis — perhaps Alexander was busy, perhaps there is another explanation why the arraignment was held in a place that is almost two hours away from Oxford. [UPDATE: I’m told by one who was at the arraignment that the PACER documents are misleading in listing the place of the arraignment — Balducci actually was at the courthouse in Oxford, while Judge Davis was in Aberdeen and appeared via a video link].
SECOND UPDATE: Here’s a story by Alyssa Schnugg of the Oxford Eagle on the guilty plea and the arraignment.
Some aspects of the plea agreement:
- He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery of an elected state official, which carries a possible penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
- He agrees to cooperate with the United States in the prosecution of the other alleged conspirators.
- The government acknowledges "the fact that the defendant has already substantially assisted the government."
- He agrees to submit to a polygraph exam.
- There is no agreement as to the sentence to be imposed, although the government agrees to file a motion asking for a departure from the mandatory sentencing guidelines.
The plea agreement, of course, must be approved by the court.