HealthSouth’s Richard Scrushy Acquitted on All Charges

Jury Reaches Verdict in Scrushy Trial (AP – NYT)

Jurors have reached a verdict in the fraud trial of HealthSouth Corp. founder and fired Chief Executive Richard Scrushy, court officials said Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre told Scrushy and attorneys on both sides to get to court for an announcement later Tuesday.

The decision came in the fifth day of deliberations since Bowdre replaced a sick juror with an alternate and told the panel to start work anew. It was the 21st day of deliberations overall. Defense lawyer Donald Watkins said Scrushy was on his way to court.
”Nobody wanted to try this case over again,” said Watkins.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Schrushy was a major benefactor of Troy State University, so I’ve been paying more attention to this trial than I otherwise would have. Indeed, they renamed the football field “Schrushy Field” after his big donation helped fund renovations.

Update (1358): Jury Acquits Ex-HealthSouth CEO Scrushy

Jurors acquitted HealthSouth Corp. founder and fired Chief Executive Richard Scrushy on Tuesday of all charges related to a $2.7 billion earnings overstatement at the chain of rehabilitation and medical-service centers. The sweeping acquittal in the 36-count indictment ended a five-month trial with a huge victory for an embattled corporate chief after a series of convictions in other high-profile business scandals. As the “not guilty” verdicts were read on count after count, Scrushy started crying. He pulled out a handkerchief and began wiping his eyes. After the final count, he reached around and hugged his wife, Leslie, in the first row behind the defense table.

Scrushy, charged with fraud, false corporate reporting and making false statements to regulators, was the first CEO charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reporting law. But Scrushy, tried in the city where he has been a generous philanthropist, blamed the massive accounting scheme on subordinates including all five finance chiefs who served under him at HealthSouth.

“I’m disappointed in the verdict,” U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said after the verdict was read.

In all, 15 former HealthSouth executives have pleaded guilty since 2003, when the scandal erupted publicly and drove the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

As always in these high profile cases, the phrase “Where do I go to get back my good name?” comes to mind. Scrushy will never be able to fully rebuild his reputation after being drug through the mud all these months.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Just a wild guess: if he is found guilty the name “Schrushy Field” goes the way of “Enron Field”

  2. James Joyner says:

    Actually, they took the name off well over a year ago when the scandal first broke.

  3. M. Murcek says:

    He was acquitted on all counts – guess the name can go back up, or they can give him his money back, or something…

  4. Anderson says:

    Just because you couldn’t be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, do you *deserve* your good name back? Not necessarily.

    (Don’t know anything about this case; just making a general point about “innocence” in court.)

  5. McGehee says:

    He certainly deserves to try to get it back. Though I’d advise him against touring the nation’s golf courses in search of the “real” defrauder…