After being acquitted in 2005 on all charges related to the massive accounting fraud at HealthSouth, former CEO Richard Scrushy may be heading to prison after all.
Scrushy faces sentencing Tuesday in a separate case in which he and former Alabama governor Don Siegelman were convicted of bribery and other federal charges last year. Scrushy was found guilty of arranging donations of $500,000 to support Siegelman’s 1999 campaign to institute a state lottery in Alabama in return for a seat on an Alabama hospital regulatory board.
Siegelman himself was found guilty on 6 of 32 criminal counts. Each man faces up to 30 years in prison.
According to the Associated Press, prosecutors asked Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to order Scrushy to serve 25 years and Siegelman to serve 30 years. The government is also seeking millions of dollars in fines.
“These defendants have basically thumbed their nose at the criminal justice system,” said lead prosecutor Louis Franklin, the acting U.S. Attorney in the case, according to The Birmingham News.
Art Leach, Scrushy’s defense lawyer and a former federal prosecutor, told the paper a large sentence would be “unprecedented,” adding, “I think it’s completely incorrect. I think it’s actually absurd.”
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for nine o’clock Tuesday morning, but could last the rest of the week, according to the Alabama paper.
“This is an extremely significant event. We don’t have any precedent for it in Alabama,” University of Alabama political scientist William Stewart told the wire service. “These were two mighty men of politics and the business world. Each of them had reached the pinnacle of what their chosen fields could offer them. Now they are waiting to see to what extent they will be deprived of their freedom.”