BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A revamped jury Thursday began its first full day of deliberations in the corporate fraud trial of HealthSouth Corp. (search) founder and former Chief Executive Richard Scrushy (search), a court official said.
The 52-year-old Scrushy, meanwhile, was scheduled to attend his father's funeral.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre replaced a male juror who had recurring health problems with a male alternate, and instructed jurors to restart deliberations from scratch.
The judge could have ordered deliberations to resume with 11 jurors, but she said calling in an alternate was the "wiser" course. Defense lawyers also said they preferred a 12-member panel.
The original panel had deliberated for 16 days without reaching a verdict.
Scrushy is accused of directing a $2.7 billion accounting scam from 1996 to 2002 at the Birmingham, Alabama, health-care company in a bid to inflate its 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 company financial statements.
The Alabama native also faces multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and other charges in connection with the fraud at the nation's largest chain of physical therapy and outpatient surgery centers.
Scrushy has denied any wrongdoing and could face life in prison and forfeiture of much of his wealth if convicted. The fired CEO has blamed the fraud on subordinates, including five former chief financial officers who have pleaded guilty in the scheme.
A mixed-race jury of seven men and five women began deliberating on May 19 after four months of testimony. Earlier this month, jurors had said they could not reach a verdict on any of the 36 charges against Scrushy, but the judge instructed them to work harder to break the deadlock.
Scrushy's father, Gerald Marin Scrushy of Selma, Ala., died on Monday after suffering a brain stem hemorrhage over the weekend.