Jurors began deliberations Thursday in the fraud trial of Richard Scrushy (search), who is accused of directing a $2.7 billion earnings overstatement at HealthSouth Corp. (search) and the first CEO charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reporting law.

After hearing final instructions from U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre, the 12-member panel went to the jury room to consider weeks of testimony and thousands of pages of exhibits and recordings from the 3 1/2-month trial.

Bowdre told the jury of seven men and five women to first elect a foreman. The panel was split evenly between blacks and whites.

"Thank you again, and have at it," said Bowdre.

Scrushy is the first chief executive accused of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley act (search), a corporate reform measure passed three years ago in response to a string of scandals. He also is accused of conspiracy, false reporting to the Securities and Exchange Commission (search), multiple fraud counts and money laundering.

Scrushy, 52, faces millions of dollars in fines and a maximum sentence that amounts to life if convicted of all counts, and prosecutors are seeking $278 million in assets including vintage cars, oceangoing boats, mansions and art they claim were linked to the fraud.