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Judge denies former Ala. gov's release

MONTGOMERY, Ala. --A federal judge Thursday refused to release former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman on bond while his government corruption conviction is appealed.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of Montgomery ruled that Siegelman had not shown that he has a substantial chance of winning his case on appeal.

Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy were convicted last year of bribery and other charges. In June, Fuller sentenced them to federal prison terms and ordered them immediately taken into custody.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently directed Fuller to address the issue of whether Siegelman should be freed while arguments to overturn the conviction are heard, leading to Thursday's four-page decision.

Fuller's ruling applied only to Siegelman. Scrushy has also asked the 11th Circuit to order him released on appeal bond, but the 11th Circuit has not yet responded.

In his ruling Thursday, Fuller said a defendant can only be released on appeal bond if he "has satisfied his burden of establishing that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact likely to result in reversal or an order of a new trial."

Fuller said he found that Siegelman did not meet that burden.

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted of participating in a scheme where Scrushy arranged $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery in exchange for a seat on a hospital regulatory board. Attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy have said they will show on appeal that prosecutors never proved that Siegelman and Scrushy had a "quid pro quo" agreement as required to convict someone on a federal bribery charge.

Siegelman was also convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to cover up $9,200 given to him by a lobbyist to help him purchase a motorcycle.

Fuller's ruling returns Siegelman's request for release on appeal bond to the 11th Circuit. Siegelman attorney David McDonald said defense attorneys will push for a quick ruling from the appellate judges.

"I am not surprised by this result," McDonald said after receiving a copy of Fuller's order. "I will anticipate the 11th Circuit to actually address the issues we raised."

Prosecutor Steve Feaga said he expects the appeals court to order Siegelman to remain in prison. He said he doesn't believe either Siegelman or Scrushy will win on appeal.

"The appeal in this case will be unsuccessful. The court made sound decisions based on the law during the trial," Feaga said.

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