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HealthSouth Official Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Jul 8, 2003 | Wall Street Journal

HealthSouth Corp. Vice President of Finance Jason Brown pleaded guilty to securities-fraud charges, joining a growing list of the firm's executives who face charges in a criminal investigation into alleged profit overstatements.

The Justice Department said Mr. Brown agreed to cooperate with the government and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, falsifying books and records and wire fraud.

The 34-year-old was the outpatient surgery and rehabilitation firm's vice president of finance since May 2000.

A HealthSouth spokesman said Mr. Brown's employment was terminated Tuesday. The spokesman declined to comment further on the charges and plea.

The Justice Department's charges against Mr. Brown expands the government's probe beyond HealthSouth's accounting department and into its treasury department. So far, 12 current and former HealthSouth executives have been charged in the government's investigation, which claims HealthSouth deliberately inflated profits by at least $1.4 billion since 1999.

The department alleged Mr. Brown participated in the conspiracy to overstate financial results and provided false documents related to stock sales. In addition, a criminal charge alleged he altered HealthSouth's same-store sales results at the direction of other senior officers.

Mr. Brown's conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. A hearing on his plea will be held at a later date.

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