HealthSouth Corp. founder and former CEO Richard Scrushy will have six more months to prepare for his criminal trial on 85 counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. A federal judge has rescheduled the trial's start date for Aug. 1, 2004, according to court documents filed this week in Birmingham, Ala., where HealthSouth is based. U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre pushed back the start date from Feb. 2, after federal prosecutors and Scrushy's defense team filed a joint motion requesting a delay because of the volume of discovery in the case. Millions of pages of documents are expected to be gathered as material in the case in addition to e-mails and audiotapes and videotapes. As previously reported, Scrushy's defense team plans to challenge the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which holds chief executives personally liable for fraudulent financial reporting. If convicted, Scrushy -- the first CEO indicted under the act -- faces a possible maximum sentence of 650 years in prison, the forfeiture of $279 million and more than $36 million in fines. Fifteen former employees at HealthSouth -- including all five of the company's previous CFOs -- have pleaded guilty in the alleged accounting fraud that inflated reported income by $2.7 billion at the rehabilitation provider between 1996 and 2002. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Scrushy's fraud trial delayed until August
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