Scrushy Jury Gets a Day Off on 'Emergency'

Jurors in the fraud case against fired HealthSouth Corp. (search) CEO Richard Scrushy (search) took another unscheduled day off Monday, further delaying deliberations in a trial that began in January.

Chief deputy clerk Sharon Harris said a member of the jury "had an unexpected emergency conflict come up," meaning deliberations won't resume until Tuesday morning. The nature of the emergency wasn't disclosed.

Jurors have deliberated 16 days since getting the case on May 19. They previously took four days off this month because of illness and vacation conflicts.

Scrushy went on trial Jan. 25. While jurors reported being deadlocked on all 36 counts against Scrushy on June 3, they continued deliberating after getting instructions from U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre aimed at breaking the impasse.

Scrushy is accused of leading a $2.7 billion earnings overstatement at the Birmingham-based chain of rehabilitation and medical centers. He is accused of making millions from bonuses and stock sales during the fraud, which lasted from 1996 through 2002.

The defense claims underlings ran the huge accounting scheme on their own and hid the fraud from Scrushy, HealthSouth's primary founder.

Scrushy is the first chief executive charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley (search) corporate reporting law. He also is accused of conspiracy, false reporting, fraud and money laundering.

If convicted, Scrushy could be sentenced to the equivalent of life imprisonment and fined millions of dollars. Prosecutors also are seeking $278 million in assets they claim are linked to the fraud.