February 11, 2005
"You ought to go down fighting."
These is just something irresistible about the quotes that emerge from the parallel accounting fraud trials of Bernie Ebbers in New York and Richard Scrushy in Birmingham, Alabama. In the HealthSouth case, former CFO Bill Owens completed his eighth day on the witness stand (time sure flies by when you're having fun) and the government finished its direct examination by playing the last of the six audio tapes Owens made over a two-day period in March 2003. A short time later, the FBI executed a search warrant at HealthSouth's headquarters, after which the board relieved Scrushy of his CEO position. Among other things, the tape recording has Scrushy telling Owens, "You've got accountants signing off on all this. You've got everything set up. You're smart, Bill, but you've got to lead your troops. I'll do whatever you want me to. I think you ought to go down fighting, Bill. You ought to go down fighting." While this statements is potentially nefarious, Scrushy's comments are not the proverbial smoking gun, and he is likely to testify to explain what he meant -- no doubt with lots of martial and sports references thrown in to complete the picture. The cross-examination of Owens has begun, and expect him to testify well into next week. An AP story here discusses the testimony and tapes. (ph)
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