Wednesday, September 12, 2007
When Richard Scrushy was indicted in 2005 on corruption charges, he was just coming off an acquittal on conspiracy and securities fraud charges related to accounting fraud at HealthSouth when he was CEO. Many viewed Scrushy as the primary player in the case, which also included former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and two of his aides. It now seems that Scrushy was just along for the ride, and Siegelman was the primary focus of the government's investigation that is being viewed quite differently now that allegations of political motivations have surfaced. According to an affidavit (here), the White House, in the person of Karl Rove, targeted Siegelman, and the case would be handled by two U.S. Attorney's in Alabama, described as the "girls" in the affidavit that sets out purported conversations about Siegelman after he narrowly lost re-election in 2002. Unfortunately, the affidavit recounts hearsay on hearsay, and the other participants deny the conversations ever took play. The allegations may not be much of a basis to attack Siegelman's convictions on corruption charges related to $500,000 of payments made by Scrushy. Even if politics tainted the investigation and prosecution of Siegelman, it's not clear what effect that would have on Scrushy's conviction because he does not appear to have been the direct target of the investigation, but only more of a bit player.
Not that Scrushy has receded completely into the background. He is currently in the FCI in Beaumont, Texas, after receiving an 82-month prison term. He has filed for bail pending his appeal of the convictions, and a brief filed by the government on September 10 (available below) argues that he is a flight risk, citing his excursion from Orlando to South Florida while he was awaiting sentencing as a factor in denying bail. With Congress looking into the decision to prosecute Siegelman -- a letter (here) from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to the Department of Justice decries its refusal to turn over documents related to the Siegelman case and two other prosecutions -- and the Eleventh Circuit considering the bail motion and the appeal, the case will not end any time soon. (ph)