A year after a jury convicted Richard Scrushy of bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud, a U.S. district judge in Montgomery, Ala., sentenced the former HealthSouth Corp. chief executive officer to six years and 10 months in prison and ordered him to pay a $150,000 fine. In June 2006, Scrushy, 54, had been accused of paying former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman $500,000 to obtain a seat on the state certificate-of-need board for a HealthSouth representative.
Late Thursday, Judge Mark Fuller in Alabamas Middle District sentenced Siegelman to seven years and four months in prison and ordered him to pay $50,000 in fines.
After Fuller announced his decision, Scrushy left with U.S. marshals and was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, which serves as a designation facility to determine where his sentence would be served, according to Art Leach, Scrushys attorney. In due course, we will file the appeal, and we feel confident hell be vindicated, Leach said.
Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth issued a written statement that said the company is continuing its recovery from the massive fraud that occurred during Scrushys tenure. We are pleased that justice has been served in this case and are focused on our mission of providing high-quality rehabilitative healthcare to more than 80 communities across the country, the statement said.
Leach said he has filed a motion for the judge to consider releasing Scrushy pending the appeal. Evidence was legally insufficient to convict, and the case should have been thrown out before it went to the jury, he said.
Monte Dube, a partner with the law firm McDermott Will and Emery in Chicagowhich Dube said does some work for HealthSouthsaid the case is garden-variety bribery, and that healthcare leaders should anticipate higher levels of scrutiny with respect to certificate-of-need laws in certain parts of the country.
In some states, CON has long had a reputation for being a political/regulatory cesspool, Dube said. The message generally is when you jump in, you better play by the rules or be prepared to pay the price. -- by Jessica Zigmond