Eleventh Circuit strikes bribery charges against ex-governor, ex-HealthSouth CEO

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Tuesday reversed two bribery charges [opinion, PDF] against former Alabama governor Don Siegelman [personal profile; JURIST news archive] and former HealthSouth [corporate website] CEO Richard Scrushy [JURIST news archive] and remanded the case for re-sentencing. The court upheld counts for federal funds bribery, depriving others of honest services, Scrushy's bribery of Siegelman and obstruction of justice. However, the court reversed counts based on the allegation that Scrushy used his seat on Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board to attempt to affect the interests of HealthSouth and its competitors and that this self-dealing was a part of the larger scheme that Siegelman and Scrushy had orchestrated. The court agreed with Siegelman that there was no evidence at trial to link him to Scrushy's self-dealing scheme. The court also did not agree with the Government's post-Skilling theory of Scrushy's alleged bribery of another Health South employee:

The government's case, even in Counts 8 and 9, was always primarily focused on the pay-to-play scheme between Scrushy and Siegelman. The vast majority of the allegations and testimony went to prove this scheme. The government always described the scheme alleged in Counts 8 and 9 as selfdealing, and its attempt now—post-Skilling—to emphasize the alleged bribery of Adams finds some, but not much, support in the proof. The evidence that Adams intended to alter his official actions as a result of the receipt of benefits from Scrushy is insufficient, and Scrushy's convictions on Counts 8 and 9 must be reversed.
Scrushy said that he was pleased [FoxBusiness report] with the reversal of the bribery counts and that he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court [official website] to have the rest of the charges overturned.

Last June, the Supreme Court vacated the 2006 judgments [JURIST report] against Siegelman and Scrushy. Their cases were remanded to the Eleventh Circuit for proceedings consistent with the court's ruling in Skilling v. United States [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in 2006 [JURIST report] on federal bribery and corruption charges. The convictions were appealed, and Siegelman had two counts of mail fraud reversed for lack of evidence. The court of appeals later denied a request [JURIST report] by Siegelman and Scrushy for an en banc rehearing of their convictions on charges of corruption.

 

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