With Richard Scrushy's criminal problems officially behind him, his lawyers will now focus on the civil lawsuits that have been filed against the founder and former chief executive officer of HealthSouth Corp.
Last week, Alice Martin, U.S. attorney in Birmingham, Ala., and the lead prosecutor in the criminal case against Scrushy, filed a motion with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, Atlanta, to drop its appeal of perjury counts against Scrushy that were dismissed during his criminal trial. The appeal of the dismissal of the perjury charges was a last-ditch effort by the government for a criminal conviction of Scrushy, who was acquitted in late June on 36 counts of leading a scheme to falsify company income to inflate stock prices.
Scrushy's attorneys now are working to thwart a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Scrushy.
Earlier in the month, the SEC filed a motion saying that Scrushy's acquittal in the criminal trial wasn't grounds for dismissal of the commission's civil suit. Similar to the Justice Department's indictment, the SEC's charges allege that Scrushy orchestrated a scheme to fake the company's financials to bolster the price of stock, which he sold.
The SEC requested that Scrushy forfeit his "ill-gotten gains" and that the court "impose civil penalties and bar Scrushy from acting as an officer or director of any publicly traded company." Scrushy attorney Art Leach said he didn't want to comment on the SEC's allegations, stating that the Scrushy team's rebuttal will be made in the court filing.
Leach also took part in a hearing last week with a Wilmington, Del., Chancery Court judge who reaffirmed a November 2003 ruling from shareholder litigation. As a result of the judgment, Scrushy still owes Birmingham-based HealthSouth $17.1 million, according to lawyers representing the shareholders.