- The Washington Times - Monday, May 1, 2006

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Bloomberg) — HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy paid Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to gain a political post that would help his company, a prosecutor said in opening arguments in the bribery case against the two men.

“Scrushy had to scramble” to win favor with Mr. Siegelman, the newly elected governor, after backing his opponent in 1998, Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin told jurors yesterday. “He had to bribe our governor.”

Mr. Scrushy, 53, is defending against criminal charges at his second federal trial in as many years, as is Mr. Siegelman, 60. Mr. Scrushy is accused of arranging $500,000 in payments to Mr. Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery in 1999 and 2000. In return, Mr. Siegelman gave Mr. Scrushy a seat on a hospital regulatory board, prosecutors contend.

Mr. Scrushy was acquitted of a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at HealthSouth in June. Prosecutors dropped a different political corruption case against Mr. Siegelman last year after a judge threw out some of their key evidence.

Since his acquittal, Mr. Scrushy has spent his time fighting civil lawsuits seeking to strip him of his fortune, once estimated at almost $300 million. He also has expanded a Christian television and Internet ministry with his wife, Leslie.

A Securities and Exchange Commission civil fraud case against him is set for trial next year.

Mr. Siegelman, who was governor of Alabama from 1999 to 2003, is seeking the Democratic nomination in a bid to win back his former job. He was narrowly defeated for re-election by Bob Riley, a Republican.

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