Indicted CEO Turns TV Preacher

When HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was indicted on 85 counts of cooking his company's books and barred from entering the offices of the Birmingham empire he built, most thought they'd heard the last of him at least until his trial.

Not so, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.

Instead, the alleged mastermind of one of the worst cases of corporate fraud in history has gone from CEO to religious talk show host, with his wife at his side.

"I'm working very hard to get closer to our relationship to God, and we've been led to do this," .

In his show, Scrushy says, "Be sure to choose God's path because the path you choose will determine where you spend eternity."

Scrushy describes his daily offering as a place where issues can be discussed openly: an antidote for what he calls, big media bias.

But prosecutors charge Scrushy's self financed show is an attempt not to woo the faithful but to woo potential jurors.

"A lot of people see this for what it is, basically a Richard Scrushy infomercial, and they resent that," says Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney.

Scrushy denies his effort is meant to soften the jury pool in any way.

"I've already said that it's not about us," he says.

But Scrushy has ended his show with the following statement: "If you want the latest and most accurate news regarding my situation, please visit my Web site at www.Richard M. Scrushy.com."

"I've never seen anything like this," says Don Cochran, a law professor at Cumberland Law School.

Cochran doesn't blame Scrushy for trying to counter bad press and government leaks, but he says it's a strategy that carries some risks.

"I think jurors who have genuine faiths and beliefs could be offended if they think someone else is using that and doesn't have those types of beliefs," says Cochran.

Scrushy says he just wants to help his community. His wife Leslie, whose father is a minister, insists the show is a genuine expression of the way the couple want to practice their faith regardless of criminal charges.

"Why should we stop living simply because he's been accused of something? What would you suggest that we do?"

"Do you want me to go sit in my room? No, I'm not going to do that," she says. "If we can work to lift people up and do positive things while I'm sitting here waiting, that's good."

And prosecutor's are waiting too for Scrushy to say something they can use against him in court this summer when Birmingham's newest TV personality faces at least 12 members of his public for real.
  • Jaime Holguin

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