Juror Sickness Halts Scrushy Deliberations

Jury deliberations in the corporate fraud trial of HealthSouth Corp. (search) founder and former Chief Executive Richard Scrushy (search) were called off Thursday because of a sick juror, a court official said.

Sharon Harris, chief deputy clerk, told reporters at U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., that the jury in the Scrushy case would not meet because one juror fell ill.

The jurors have weighed Scrushy's fate for 15 days since beginning deliberations on May 19. The trial began in January.

Scrushy, 52, is accused of directing a $2.7 billion accounting scam from 1996 to 2002 at HealthSouth in a bid to inflate the company's stock price and enrich himself. The multimillionaire is the first chief executive tried for violating the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (search), the corporate reform law requiring CEOs to certify the accuracy of their financial statements.

He also faces multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and other charges in connection with the fraud at the chain of physical therapy and outpatient surgery centers.

The Alabama native has denied any wrongdoing and could face life in prison and forfeiture of much of his wealth if convicted. Scrushy has blamed the fraud on subordinates, many of whom have pleaded guilty in the scheme.

Earlier this month, the jury of seven men and five women told U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre that they could not reach a verdict on any of the 36 charges against Scrushy, but she issued an Allen charge, which instructed them to try and work out their differences.