Scrushy must wear GPS device to travel

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 10, 2007|By Bloomberg News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard M. Scrushy, convicted of bribery, must wear a global positioning device when traveling from now on after a federal judge ruled yesterday that he took an unauthorized yacht ride last month.

Scrushy, whom prosecutors sought to incarcerate after the March trip in South Florida, can travel freely in the northern and middle judicial districts of Alabama, near his Birmingham home.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody ruled that any other travel must be strictly detailed to probation officers and the court. Any deviation from his new order will be considered a violation of bail conditions, Coody said

Two U.S. probation officers testified at Scrushy's bond-revocation hearing yesterday that he took an unauthorized trip to Miami and spent the night on his yacht.

Scrushy, 54, has been free on bail while he awaits sentencing. Federal prosecutors want him placed in custody for taking the boat trip, saying he's a flight risk.

Scrushy took a court-approved trip in March to Walt Disney Co.'s Disney World in Orlando, Fla. His probation officer, Barry Burton, testified that he mistakenly approved a side trip from Disney World to West Palm Beach, thinking the cities, which are about 170 miles apart, were only an hour's drive from one another.

"I have since looked at a map," Burton said.

Instead of returning within the day to Disney World and staying at a hotel there, Scrushy and his family boarded his Chez Soiree yacht and went to Miami for several days, Burton and an FBI agent said.

Jim Parkman, Scrushy's lawyer, sought to show that his client had done his part to let officials know he planned to visit South Florida, meet with his lawyer Donald Watkins in Miami and fly back to his home in Birmingham, Ala., on Watkins' plane.

Burton said Scrushy didn't tell him anything about the yacht or Miami in conversations before the March 16-24 trip. Scrushy's other probation officer, Tamara Martin, said she found out Scrushy was in South Florida and called him on his cell phone.

"He implied he was still at Disney World," she testified. She said she didn't tell him she knew he was on his boat in case he was about to flee the country.

Scrushy and former Alabama Gov. Donald Siegelman were convicted in a political corruption case June 29 and are free pending sentencing, which hasn't been scheduled. Both men said they will appeal. Scrushy could receive up to 30 years in prison.

Scrushy was fired from HealthSouth in 2003 after investigators uncovered a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at the company, the largest rehabilitation hospital chain in the United States. He was acquitted in that case in 2005.

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