High Court Rejects Appeal of Ex-Alabama Governor, Hospital Executive
By Elizabeth Murphy | June 4, 2012 3:48 pm

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy to overturn their public corruption convictions, likely marking the end of a long-running episode that gave rise to suggestions of political vendettas as well as accusations of corruption.

In 2006, Siegelman was charged with improperly appointing Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 donation to a state lottery campaign that Siegelman supported. Siegelman was convicted of bribery, honest services fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, and he was sentenced to 88 months in prison, serving nine months before being released pending his appeal.

Don Siegelman

Scrushy was convicted of bribery, conspiracy and honest services mail fraud, with the judge handing down an 82-month sentence. After two counts in both Scrushy’s and Siegelman’s convictions were thrown out, Scrushy’s sentence was reduced to 70 months. He is currently in a halfway house in Houston, according to a report in the Birmingham News. Scrushy founded HealthSouth, a Birmingham-based system of inpatient rehabilitative hospitals, in the mid-1980s.

Richard Scrushy

While the high court refused to hear an appeal from Siegelman and Scrushy, Siegelman is seeking a new trial in the Middle District of Alabama on an issue separate from the ones the justices declined to review. Judge Mark Fuller has yet to decide on Siegelman’s bid for a new trial based on allegations of improper behavior by then-U.S. Attorney Leura Canary.

Canary recused herself from the case in 2002 because of a conflict of interest. Her husband had worked as a consultant for a Republican candidate who narrowly defeated Siegelman in the general election in 2002.

Siegelman’s lawyers have argued that Canary did not totally remove herself from the case, pointing to emails she sent after her recusal that they say show she was still involved. Canary has argued that she emails did not deal with the case itself — they were purely administrative.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to review Scrushy and Siegelman’s convictions. The high court limited the scope of the case, determining that the “honest services fraud” law is limited to bribery and kickback schemes.

A number of members of Congress and 44 former state attorneys general have questioned the convictions, saying the case against the Democrats was politically motivated and orchestrated by Karl Rove, then a top political adviser to President George W. Bush.

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