Ex HealthSouth CEO Scrushy gets 70 months

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was sentenced Wednesday to 70 months in prison, which shaved a year off his previous sentence of almost seven years.

His lawyer, Art Leach, said the lighter sentence could mean that Scrushy will be eligible to be transferred within one of two months from the federal prison in Beaumont, Texas to a halfway house.

His wife, Leslie Scrushy, who has moved to Houston to be near her husband, said she was happy and relieved that the sentence was reduced.

"I can't wait to go call our children. I'm thankful for the outcome," Leslie Scrushy said. She said she was going to tell the children that "their daddy's sentence has been reduced and he'll be coming home soon."

Scrushy and former Gov. Don Siegelman were convicted in 2006 in what prosecutors said was a bribery scheme involving donations to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery

Scrushy and Siegelman were granted new sentencing hearings when a federal appeals court dropped two charges. Resentencing for Siegelman, who was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, has not yet been scheduled. The former governor has served about nine months of his sentence and is currently free on an appeal bond.

U.S. Marshals brought Scrushy back to Montgomery from the federal prison in Texas, where he has been incarcerated for more than four and a half years. When he was led into the courtroom Wednesday he was wearing a red jail uniform, in contrast to the expensive suits he wore when he was one of Alabama's top business executives. He looked thin and pale and there were bald spots showing through what had been a thick head of dark hair.

It was a humble Scrushy who apologized to Fuller for some heated remarks and motions that were aimed at the judge during and after his trial. He said he was overzealous in remarks both he and previous attorneys had made.

He described the different tasks he has performed in prison, including teaching inmates to speak English, teaching them business skills and ministering to them. Scrushy described the hardships he has faced and all that he has missed in the lives of his wife and nine children. He talked about missing first days of school, graduations, a daughter's wedding and the birth of a grandchild.

A musician, who once had his own band in Alabama, Scrushy said he often plays instruments and sings at prison events and church services.

"I'll be 60 soon. All my companies are gone. I have no assets," Scrushy said. Once one of the most powerful business figures in Alabama, Scrushy said he now makes $12 a month at his prison job. He said the first thing he will do when released from prison is find a fulltime job. He said he and his family plan to live in Texas when he is released.

He said he is now "a better man" because of being able to help his fellow inmates while behind bars.

"I ask you to have mercy on me and allow me to go home and be with my wife and kids," Scrushy told Fuller.

"Mr. Scrushy you do not owe me an apology," the judge responded to Scrushy.

The judge said Scrushy is a different may, who has gone from the top of the business world to making $12 a month.

"You are a different man. You have paid the price," Fuller said. "I feel your time in custody has served you well." Federal prosecutors had asked Fuller to give Scrushy 82 months, the same punishment he was given when originally sentenced in 2007. Scrushy's lawyers wanted 63 months.

After Scrushy apologized to Fuller, prosecutor Richard Pilger brought out that Scrushy has received two disciplinary actions since he has been in prison. Scrushy said both were for minor infractions and explained the incidents to the judge.

"Are you apologizing for committing the crime of bribery," Pilger asked Scrushy. Scrushy said he could not talk about his original convictions because his appeal is still active.