Scrushy Is Convicted of Bribery
Richard Scrushy was found guilty of bribing the governor of Alabama, a year and a day after being acquitted of masterminding a fraud at HealthSouth Corp., the company he ran for years.
Former Gov. Don Siegelman, 60, and Scrushy, 53, were convicted Thursday by a Montgomery, Ala., jury on the 12th day of deliberations. Prosecutors said Scrushy paid Siegelman $500,000 for a seat on a hospital regulatory board. At the time, Scrushy was in charge of Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth, the largest U.S. rehabilitation hospital.
The jury returned verdicts on all counts just two days after telling U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller that it was deadlocked. The judge twice during deliberations told the stalled panel that it was its duty to reach verdicts if possible. His refusal to declare a mistrial could be a ground for appeal, a law professor said.
“The question will become whether the jury was coerced,” said Pam Bucy, who teaches at the University of Alabama. Telling jurors to keep trying “will certainly be an issue for appeal,” she said.
Both men plan to appeal the convictions, punishable by as many as 30 years in prison. They remain free pending sentencing. The judge met with defense lawyers after the verdicts and kept secret the terms of their release.
“You know we will appeal,” Scrushy said as he sat with his wife in the courtroom after the verdicts. “It’s not over.”
He was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud. Siegelman was convicted of seven charges of bribery, conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction of justice. All but one count was part of the Scrushy bribery allegation.
Two former Siegelman Cabinet members -- Paul Hamrick, a former chief of staff, and Gary Mack Roberts, a former state highway director -- were accused of accepting bribes for state contracts unrelated to Scrushy. They were acquitted of all charges.
Siegelman, a Democrat, was governor from 1999 to 2002. He tried a comeback this year, running an unsuccessful campaign for his party’s nomination for governor during the trial.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Louis Franklin said in closing arguments that Siegelman created a corrupt political environment in which “you had to donate to participate.”
Scrushy still faces civil suits by HealthSouth shareholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission growing out of the scandal at the company.