Risk & Compliance

Scrushy to Be GPS-enabled

Free on probation after last year's conviction, the former HealthSouth executive extended a court-approved trip to Disney World with some unapprove...
Stephen Taub and Dave CookApril 10, 2007

Richard Scrushy must wear a monitoring device when traveling outside his home area, a federal judge has ruled.

The founder and former chief executive officer of HealthSouth, who was acquitted in 2005 on all counts in connection with the company’s massive accounting fraud, was convicted last summer on a number of charges involving former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. Scrushy, who faces 30 years in prison when he is finally sentenced, has said he will appeal.

For the time being Scrushy is free on probation, and in March he took a court-approved trip with his family to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Prosecutors reportedly complained that Scrushy then traveled to West Palm Beach and cruised in a yacht to Miami without telling court officials. He also allegedly deceived a probation officer who called to check on him, according published accounts.

On Monday, during a court appearance in Birmingham, Alabama, Scrushy maintained that federal probation officers and prosecutors were confusing and “twisting” his story, reported Bloomberg.

Part of the confusion, however, could be traced to Scrushy’s probation officer, Barry Burton, who testified that he approved the trip from Orlando to West Palm Beach because he believed they were only an hour’s drive apart; in fact they are separated by 170 miles. “I have since looked at a map,” said Burton, according to the wire service.

Burton also reportedly testified, however, that the former executive did not tell him in advance about the yacht trip to Miami. Prosecutor Steve Feaga went a step further, accusing Scrushy of plotting to flee the country. “We believe that if the weather hadn’t been bad, Mr. Scrushy would have gone out into the Caribbean, and he’d be gone,” he stated, according to Bloomberg. Feaga reportedly moved that Scrushy be remanded as a flight risk.

Though U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody denied that motion, he told Scrushy that he “would not tolerate any future deviations from the requirements the court has placed on you,” reported the Associated Press.

Coody ruled that Scrushy can travel freely in northern Alabama, near his Birmingham home, but other travel must be tracked by a global positioning system device, according to Bloomberg. For the sake of old-school monitoring efforts, he must also give the court a detailed itinerary if he travels outside his home area, the AP added.