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Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and his wife, Leslie, talk with reporters as they depart the federal courthouse in Montgomery on Wednesday. A judge indicated Wednesday that Scrushy may have to serve from seven to more than 10 years on his federal corruption conviction.
AP photo by Dave Martin
Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and his wife, Leslie, talk with reporters as they depart the federal courthouse in Montgomery on Wednesday. A judge indicated Wednesday that Scrushy may have to serve from seven to more than 10 years on his federal corruption conviction.

Guidelines could send Siegelman, Scrushy to prison

By Bob Johnson
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — A federal judge adopted sentencing guidelines Wednesday that could send former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to prison for more than 10 years and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy for more than eight years.

After hearing attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy object to findings in a sentencing report filed by federal probation officers, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller issued his findings on a sentence range for the defendants, convicted on bribery and other federal charges.

Sentencing guidelines

He found that the range for Siegelman was from 121 months to 151 months, with a fine range from $17,500 to $175,000.

The prison sentence range for Scrushy was from 97 months to 121 months and the fine range from $15,000 to $150,000.

Fuller does not have to follow the guidelines and can give final sentences that are harsher or more lenient.

In making his findings, Fuller ruled that his decision was influenced by a determination that both Siegelman and Scrushy had failed to take responsibility for their crimes.

Federal prosecutors argued earlier Wednesday that Siegelman and Scrushy should get stiff sentences because they have not admitted guilt after being convicted in a government corruption trial.

But defense attorneys said Siegelman and Scrushy have only exercised their constitutional right to proclaim their innocence and should not have to admit guilt when they don't believe they committed any crime.

As the sentencing hearing entered its second day, prosecutor Richard Pilger argued that Fuller should consider the lack of remorse by both Siegelman and Scrushy when he considers sentences.

Prosecutors have asked that Siegelman, 61, be sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined $1 million, and Scrushy, 54, get 25 years and a $7.2 million fine.

Defense attorneys have urged Fuller to order probation.

After Fuller ruled on the sentencing guidelines, Siegelman's attorneys called a series of high-profile witnesses to ask the judge to show the former governor leniency.

"He's gentle. He's honest. He's kind. He has a quality of goodness and decency," said former New York state Attorney General Robert Abrams, who said he and Siegelman have been close friends since Siegelman was Alabama attorney general in the 1980s.

Montgomery attorney Bobby Segall, former president of the Alabama State Bar, described Siegelman as a good family man and a public servant who cared about Alabama residents, particularly the poor.

Prosecutor Steve Feaga questioned Segall about Siegelman's character on cross-examination and brought up various instances where the former governor has been accused of unethical behavior during his career.

Segall continued to defend Siegelman's character and urged Fuller to allow the former governor to stay out of jail.

"There is a 100 percent chance Don Siegelman will be wherever the judge tells him to be, when the judge tells him to be there," said Segall, who said he has represented Siegelman as an attorney at various times over the years.

Convictions

Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted last year on federal bribery, conspiracy and mail fraud charges alleging that Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for $500,000 in contributions to the governor's 1999 campaign for a state education lottery. Siegelman and Scrushy contend there was no quid-pro-quo or personal benefit and no crime committed.

Siegelman also was convicted of obstruction of justice for trying to cover up $9,200 given to him by a lobbyist to help purchase a motorcycle.

He contends it was a legitimate transaction.

Pilger played for the court videotapes of Siegelman and Scrushy in television interviews since they were found guilty following a two-month trial last year.

In one tape Scrushy said, "Certainly you don't expect to be convicted of something you didn't do."

In another tape Siegelman said that he expected to be attacked when he was elected governor "but you don't expect to be falsely indicted."

Scrushy's attorney, Carmen Hernandez, said her client shouldn't have to admit guilt when he honestly believes he is innocent.

The courtroom was filled again Wednesday with family, friends and supporters of Siegelman and Scrushy.

Veteran civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth came to Montgomery from his home in Cincinnati for the trial because he said he wanted to show his support for Siegelman.

"I'm looking for Governor Siegelman to get this cleared up. We think he had good ideas for Alabama and is a good man," said Shuttlesworth, who was a leader of civil rights protests in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s.

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

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