BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – Closing arguments are expected today in the civil trial of HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy, whom shareholders sued for $2.6 billion, claiming he wasted company money on personal expenses and directed the fraud that put the company on the verge of bankruptcy. After Scrushy concluded testifying Friday, U.S. Marshals took him back to a Texas prison, where he is serving time on an unrelated bribery charge.
Throughout his testimony, Scrushy defended his actions as CEO and continually denied any knowledge of the fraud. During cross-examination, he sparred with plaintiffs’ attorney John Haley, saying that the decisions he made on behalf of HealthSouth were approved by the board.
“Risk takers and deal makers must have the freedom to earn profits,” Scrushy said. He said that was the “American way,” and added, “It’s not Soviet Russia.”
Attorney Jim Parkman, representing Scrushy, asked what evidence the plaintiffs had to implicate him in the fraud and Scrushy responded, “Nothing. Not a document, not an e-mail.”
Scrushy’s wife Leslie has attended the trial every day along with other family members, but noticeably absent is the large contingent of church members and ministers who attended his criminal trial in 2005 after he donated money to them.
The case is being heard in a bench trial by Jefferson Circuit Judge Allwin Horn.