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US: HealthSouth Founder Is Arraigned

Associated Press
December 22nd, 2005

Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth Corp. Chairman Richard Scrushy both proclaimed their innocence Wednesday at an arraignment on government corruption charges.

It was the second arraignment for Messrs. Siegelman and Scrushy and two former members of Mr. Siegelman's cabinet, chief of staff Paul Hamrick and transportation director Mack Roberts.

The first arraignment came after a federal grand jury in October indicted Mr. Siegelman and the other defendants. Federal prosecutors said the charges stem from "a widespread racketeering conspiracy" in which state officials traded official actions for money and gifts.

The second arraignment was necessary after the grand jury issued a new indictment earlier this month, expanding the charges it had filed against Messrs. Siegelman and Scrushy. The new indictment alleges the two conspired to influence a state regulatory health board.

Mr. Siegelman is running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006 and has accused prosecutors of trying to derail his campaign. Mr. Scrushy, acquitted in a massive fraud at HealthSouth, claims the charges are government retaliation.

"I think this is the most ridiculous think I've ever been through in my life," Mr. Scrushy said. "We haven't done anything wrong. It think this is wrong that they are putting me and my family through this."

He has has asked to be tried separately from Mr. Siegelman.

Messrs. Hamrick and Roberts also pleaded not guilty at Wednesday's arraignment.

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