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Court upholds most charges against former Alabama governor

  • Story Highlights
  • Ex-governor convicted of bribery, mail fraud, obstruction of justice
  • Don Siegelman acquitted of racketeering and extortion
  • Critics say he is a victim of a political smear campaign
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(CNN) -- A federal appeals court on Friday upheld most of the charges against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, and it upheld all of the charges against former HealthSouth executive Richard Scrushy.

Siegelman, a Democrat, served as governor of Alabama for one term, from 1999-2003. A jury in 2006 convicted him of bribery, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. But he was acquitted of other charges, including racketeering and extortion.

Critics of Siegelman's prosecution allege he was the target of a politically motivated smear campaign by President Bush's longtime strategist Karl Rove. Rove has denied the charge through his lawyer, who called it "false and foolish."

Prosecutors alleged Siegelman's mail fraud convictions arose from a "pay-for-play" scheme in which he exchanged official acts and influence for cash, property and services from a businessman and consultant. He also was accused of taking part in a scheme under which his co-defendant, Scrushy, allegedly paid Siegelman $500,000 in laundered money to obtain a seat on the state regulatory board governing HealthSouth.

Scrushy was sentenced to six years and 10 months in prison.

Siegelman served nine months of a seven-year sentence before being released in March 2008.

His release was ordered by a federal appeals court that said he was not a flight risk and he had shown his appeal would raise "substantial questions of law or fact."

In a 68-page ruling, the three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, affirmed all the convictions except for two counts, then ordered that Siegelman's case be sent back so that he could be resentenced on the remaining counts.

Siegelman's lawyer, David McDonald, said he would move for the entire circuit to hear the case.

"We've been fortunate to knock counts out each time," he told CNN in a telephone interview. Siegelman originally faced 29 counts that included some 70 charges and now faces just five, he said, adding, "We feel we're at the middle, not at the end. ... We're down to this one so-called bribe and an obstruction of justice count."

Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

All About Karl RoveDon SiegelmanAlabama

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