HealthSouth Corp., Birmingham, Ala., said Joel Gordon voluntarily resigned from its board effective May 10, leaving just two directors -- Robert May and Jon Hanson -- who were with HealthSouth before March 2003, when the Securities Exchange Commission alleged massive accounting irregularities at the company. In a news release, Gordon said at 76 he had surpassed the board's age limit of 75. He joined the board in 1996 after HealthSouth bought his company, Surgical Care Affiliates. A HealthSouth spokesman said there were no immediate plans to fill Gordon's position. Company bylaws don't stipulate a required number of board members. HealthSouth hasn't replaced Lee Hillman, who voluntary left the board in February after Bally Total Fitness, which Hillman led from 1996 to 2002, accused him of being responsible for accounting errors there. After Gordon leaves, HealthSouth will have 10 board members, including founder and fired Chief Executive Officer Richard Scrushy, who has not stepped down as requested.
Meanwhile, in Scrushy's ongoing accounting fraud trial, U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham vacated a decision to drop three perjury charges against Scrushy and said the charges would be dropped "at the appropriate time." Michael Mustokoff, a partner at law firm Duane Morris who is not involved in the case, said judges commonly wait for the prosecution to rest before dropping charges. Prosecutors, who are expected to finish presenting their case this week, have appealed Bowdre's decision to drop the perjury charges. If all three perjury charges are dropped, as well as a money-laundering charge that Bowdre has said she will drop, Scrushy will be left facing 54 criminal counts. -- by Joseph Mantone