Jurors found Richard Scrushy not guilty on all charges related to a massive accounting fraud at HealthSouth Corp., handing prosecutors a stunning rebuke, reports the Birmingham News. Scrushy, 52, was acquitted in a 16-week trial; the jury deliberated 21 days. Scrushy was charged with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley law, passed in 2002 to punish crooked executives. Neither the testimony of five former HealthSouth finance chiefs nor recorded evidence persuaded jurors to convict Scrushy of leading a fraud that nearly bankrupted one of Alabama’s largest companies.
U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, whose office failed to secure a guilty verdict against former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman last year on corruption charges, prosecuted the case. “It’s a stunning defeat for the government,” said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor in New Jersey. “It’s hard to imagine a case in which the government could have amassed more evidence in terms of recruiting high-level insiders than what we saw in this case.”