BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Friends and supporters of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman plan to gather along 20th Street in downtown Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue North, to show their support. Siegelman, who will not be allowed to stop or make any statement, is expected to take that route shortly after 3 p.m. as he returns home.
Family spokesperson Chip Hill confirmed Siegelman “has been told he will be released Wednesday,” but said they do not yet know exactly what will happen after that. Hill said, “He won’t just walk out of the prison and into the arms of his family like before,” referencing his release on bond while appeals were pending. “He will be transported from the prison by prison officials,” Hill says. It is expected he will be flown to Birmingham.
A spokesperson for the US Bureau of Prisons would only confirm Siegelman is housed at the Oakdale facility in Louisiana, and citing “privacy reasons” would not provide details of his release.
Hill said Siegelman, “Will be on very restricted supervised probation for an initial period of time.” He says he expects that will last approximately six months after which he says the former Governor will be on unsupervised probation for an extended but as of yet unspecified period of time.
Hill said it is unknown if Siegelman will be allowed to return home Wednesday or will be housed temporarily at a halfway house for final processing. He said it is expected he will meet with a federal probation supervisor immediately upon his arrival in Birmingham to learn the exact conditions of his probation, what he will and will not be allowed to do, and the consequences of any perceived violations of those terms. Hill said he fully expects Siegelman will not be allowed any interaction with news media.
Former US Attorney Doug Jones, a member of Siegelman’s defense team, tells WHNT News 19 he believes Siegelman should be able to go home Wednesday night rather than to a halfway house saying, “That paperwork should be complete.” Jones went onto say Siegelman will technically still be in the custody of the US Bureau of Prisons.
Siegelman’s closest friends and supporters tell us they have been sworn to secrecy regarding his release and being reunited with his family. All media questions are being referred to Hill for now.
Siegelman was elected the 51st Governor of Alabama in 1996 after serving as the state’s Secretary of State, Attorney General and Lt. Governor. He is the only person to hold all four top elected positions in the state. It was believed he had won reelection in 2002 until votes in Baldwin County were recounted hours after polls had closed giving the win to Republican Bob Riley. Former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, who was recently identified as being on the “short list” of potential US Supreme Court nominees by President Trump, blocked efforts for a formal recount of the Baldwin County votes and certified the election.
Siegelman was convicted of felony corruption charges in 2006 and sentenced to 7 years in prison for appointing HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a board position in state government after Scrushy donated $500,000 to a fund Siegelman had established to promote a state lottery to benefit education in the state. Siegelman was the fourth consecutive governor to appoint Scrushy to that non-paying position.
A CBS News 60 Minutes investigation, in February, 2008, revealed there was no evidence nor any allegation Siegelman personally benefited from the donation. Their report also revealed Siegelman was convicted largely on the testimony of his former aide, Nick Bailey, who the report says testified against Siegelman in exchange for leniency in an upcoming extortion trial not connected to the governor.
113 current and former states attorneys general, from both political parties, signed a petition asking Congress to investigate whether the prosecution of Siegleman was pursued not because of a crime but because of politics.