BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jurors in the corporate fraud trial of fired HealthSouth Corp. (search) CEO Richard Scrushy (search) took a long weekend for Memorial Day after six days of unfruitful deliberations.
Court officials said the jury deliberated only four hours Friday, including lunch, 1 1/2 hours less than its normal schedule.
Scrushy's trial began in January, and U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre told jurors Thursday she hoped a long weekend would refresh them. But she also suggested that the jury consider working longer hours after the holiday.
The jury has sent Bowdre notes saying they were deadlocked on a key conspiracy charge against Scrushy, but she told them it was all right to skip that count and move on to the other 35 charges against the former executive.
Scrushy is accused of directing a scheme to inflate HealthSouth earnings by $2.7 billion for seven years ending in 2002. The defense blames the fraud on former aides, including 15 one-time HealthSouth executives who pleaded guilty.
Scrushy is the first chief executive tried under the Sarbanes-Oxley law (search), passed in 2002 after a wave of corporate scandals. Besides conspiracy, he also is charged with fraud, false financial reporting and money laundering.