New Charges Added Against Fired HealthSouth CEO

Perjury and obstruction of justice charges were added Wednesday to the criminal case against fired HealthSouth Corp. (search) chief executive Richard Scrushy (search) under a new indictment in the rehabilitation giant's accounting scandal.

The new charges, part of a superseding indictment, were announced by the Justice Department as it consolidated conspiracy and fraud charges while trimming the counts from 85 to 58.

Scrushy, 52, was scheduled for a midafternoon arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge T. Michael Putnam.

Scrushy has previously pleaded not guilty to charges in the 85-count indictment accusing him of conspiracy, securities fraud and money laundering, among other crimes. Free on $10 million bond, he contends a $2.6 billion accounting fraud at HealthSouth was committed by others without his knowledge.

A federal judge has scheduled jury selection in his trial to begin Jan. 5.

The new charges accuse Scrushy with three counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice arising from the Securities and Exchange Commission's (search) probe of HealthSouth finances. The Justice Department accused Scrushy of lying to an SEC officer when he claimed figures in a 2001 HealthSouth financial report that he signed were accurate and that he had not instructed anyone to change numbers.

The obstruction of justice charge alleges that on or about March 17, 2003, after Scrushy testified before the SEC, he met with other HealthSouth officers and co-conspirators and advised them of the investigation and his answers to examiners' questions, the Justice Department said.

The indictment alleges that Scrushy "attempted to corruptly persuade one of the co-conspirators in order to influence his testimony" in the SEC proceeding, the Justice Department said.

Nineteen former HealthSouth officers and employees have been charged in the federal investigation, with 17 pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors.