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HealthSouth Allegations Are Widened

Jul 24, 2003 | Ft.com US federal prosecutors are gearing up to bring more charges in the HealthSouth investigation and have expanded their list of allegations from accounting fraud to include witness intimidation and money laundering.

In court papers filed in Birmingham, Alabama, the chief prosecutor in the case said the government had already gathered thousands of documents relating to fraud at the US healthcare company and would obtain thousands more.

"It is, of course, necessary to have these documents organised, analysed and prepared for discovery, before indictments are brought against those who do not wish to plead guilty," said Alice Martin, US attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

Ms Martin said suspects included dozens of individuals and corporations.

"The United States has uncovered evidence indicating multiple crimes by multiple suspects spanning several years dating back at least until 1996." Alleged crimes include conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud, witness intimidation, public corruption and money laundering, the filing stated.

Eleven former HealthSouth executives, including all five chief financial officers, have pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to an alleged $2.5bn fraud at the company. A 12th executive was charged earlier this month.

The company's founder and former chief executive, Richard Scrushy, faces a civil suit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing him of insider trading but does not face criminal charges. His attorneys say he is innocent and is the victim of a failed coup at the company.

The filing was a motion to continue sentencing of Emery Harris, a former vice-president who has pleaded guilty in the investigation and is co-operating with prosecutors.

It indirectly highlights the widespread nature of the fraud at HealthSouth, which involved employees at various levels of authority.

HealthSouth said it continued "to co-operate and assist with all government inquiries".

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