Pair gets prison time

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2007

Scrushy, Siegelman sentenced to a combined 170 months in bribery case

By Deborah Goodwin

The Selma Times-Journal

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MONTGOMERY &045;U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller handed down sentences for bribery convictions to former State Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy just after 7 p.m. Thursday.

The former governor was sentenced to 7 years and four months in prison, and ordered to immediately pay $50K in fines and $180K in restitution to a state agency where prosecutors say kickbacks were made. After serving his sentence, he is to serve 500 hours of community service.

Selma native Scrushy was sentenced to six years, 10 months in prison, and ordered to immediately pay $150 in fines and $267K in restitution to United Way of Central Alabama.

The sentencing trial began Tuesday, June 26. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Siegelman, 71, to 30 years in prison plus order him to pay a $1M fine and to sentence Scrushy, 54,

to 25 years plus order him to pay a $7.2M fine.

Siegelman was accused of appointing Scrushy to an important hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy arranging $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman’s campaign for a statewide lottery.

The wives of Siegelman and Scrushy left the federal building without their spouses. Prosecutors had also asked that Siegelman and Scrushy start serving their sentenced time immediately. Both men were immediately removed from the courtroom by U.S. Marshals. Siegelman’s wife Lori made no statement to the press.

Siegelman was reportedly sobbing uncontrollably after hearing his sentence. According to Siegelman’s attorney Vince Kilborn the former governor was taken into custody with shackles on his ankles, and was &8220;as upbeat as you can be for a guy in shackles.&8221;

Scrushy’s wife, Leslie, stated she was &8220;devested by the sentencing.&8221;

The Scrushys, married

since 1997, have nine children together.

At the beginning of the trial, both Siegelman and Scrushy said, regardless of the sentence, they planned to appeal their convictions to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court. Kilborn said he plans to file a notice of appeal today. Kilborn said Siegelman still &8220;has faith in the system.&8221;

The location of the facility Siegelman and Scrushy will be taken to was not released.

According to reports, Fuller received over 700 letters on Siegelman’s behalf, asking the judge for leniency.

Scrushy’s schoolmates from former Parrish High School, now Selma High, were also hoping for a light sentence.

After hearing the sentencing, Russell said he though the judge’s sentencing was &8220;fair&8221; and the believes the judge took the impact of the sentencing on both families into consideration.

Knowing both Siegelman and Scrushy personally, Russell said his heart goes out to both families.

Like Leslie, Russell too said &8220;it’s a sad day for Alabama.&8221;

Former Gov. Guy Hunt, in office from 1987 to 1993, was indicted by a grand jury in 1992 for using $200,000 of his 1987 inaugural fund to pay personal debts, as well as buy cattle and equipment for his farm. Hunt was convicted on April 22, 1993, given a five-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay a $211,000 fine at a rate of $100 per month.