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Scrushy asks appeals court for new judge for his sentencing

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Attorneys for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to order a judge to step down from presiding over the sentencing hearing for Scrushy and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

The filing asks the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to rule quickly because U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller is scheduled to sentence Scrushy and Siegelman at a hearing on June 26. The appeals court did not indicate when it would rule on the motion.

Scrushy’s attorneys claim Fuller has a conflict because he owns stock in a south Alabama company that has a contract with the Air Force and that one of the prosecutors, Steve Feaga, is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve.

Fuller issued an order in April refusing to step down from the case. He said that owning stock in a company that might benefit financially from contracts with the government is not reason for him to step down. He said he is impartial and called parts of Scrushy’s motion “rank speculation.”

Chief prosecutor Louis Franklin called Scrushy’s latest motion an attempt to delay sentencing.

“Richard Scrushy is going to be sentenced at some point. This is just an attempt to delay the inevitable,” Franklin said Wednesday.

Scrushy’s attorney, Jim Parkman, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

Fuller is a former president of and an investor in Doss Aviation Inc., a private company that receives major contracts from the Air Force and other branches of the military.

The company manages and supplies fuel and airport services as well as uniforms and equipment for military and civilian use through Aureus International, which shares an address with Doss Aviation.

The filing Wednesday with the 11th Circuit says Fuller has continued to own stock in Doss and cites Fuller’s 2005 financial disclosure statement as saying the judge’s interest in Doss is valued at between $250,001 and $500,000.

The filing says that Doss Aviation supplies fuel distribution services to Langley Air Force Base, where Feaga is an assistant to the staff judge advocate.

Feaga called Scrushy’s motion “fabrication and fantasy.”

“I have not ever and do not now have any involvement in Air Force contracts and it’s outside the realm of even reasonable thought for anyone to think I might be able to do what their whole issue is premised on,” Feaga said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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