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Hannity

Richard Scrushy talks with 'Hannity & Colmes'

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," February 6, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Back in June Richard Scrushy, the CEO of HealthSouth, was acquitted by a Birmingham, Alabama, jury of charges that included fraud and money laundering. This case sent a powerful blow to prosecutors dealing with other high-profile white collar crimes.

Joining us now in an exclusive interview, Richard Scrushy. Thank you very much for being with us tonight, Mr. Scrushy.

RICHARD SCRUSHY, FORMER CEO/FOUNDER, HEALTHSOUTH: Yes. Thanks for having us.

COLMES: The company's chairman, Robert May, says he's appalled by the multibillion-dollar fraud that took place under your management and the environment at which the fraud could occur. How responsible is a chairman and CEO for what happened under your watch? Where does the responsibility — where does the buck stop?

SCRUSHY: I think the buck stops with the people who are guilty. And I think in any situation you can be deceived.

Take, for example, husband and wives live together for many, many years. The wife finds out the husband was having an affair. They sleep in the same bed every night. They brush their teeth in the same bathroom. They eat together every day but for years.

So if you're deceived, if something is concealed and not shown to you, or no one tells you about it, you shouldn't be held responsible for something that you had nothing to do with.

COLMES: There are those who would say — now you've been hosting a Christian theme talk show for two years, and cynics have said, this is just an attempt to sway people and get them to think that you're a good guy. How do you — you've heard that. How do you respond to those?

SCRUSHY: I think, you know, that's just absolutely not true. The truth is that, Leslie and I, my wife and I, we're both ordained pastors, ministers, evangelists.

And you know, our television show is a ministry. We've had probably 250 to 300 pastors and ministers on our television show. We've really enjoyed the ministry.

It's — what we're trying to do is help people. We're trying to help build the kingdom of God. We've always been Christians. My wife grew up as a, you know, preacher's daughter. My great grandfather was a minister.

COLMES: How widespread is fraud in these corporations? And what's going to happen to Ken Lay? And is your child going to have some effect on what's going to happen in that situation?

SCRUSHY: A lot of questions there.

COLMES: Yes.

SCRUSHY: But let me try to answer all those.

First of all, I don't know how widespread, you know, corporate fraud is. But I do believe that there are companies that have people. And in companies especially like ours, we have 50,000 plus employees.

And there were some people that did some things that, you know, I was not aware of. And I think that probably even down below them, there were things that happened that they were not aware of.

So I do know that when you have big corporations and you have a lot of people, that the CEO, there's no way that he can know everything.

And you know, as far as Ken Lay, I don't know. I have no knowledge of whether he is guilty or not guilty but I would say this one thing. I think that we should not judge, because in my situation, you know, I was blasted by a lot of folks in the media.

They had never looked at any of the evidence. And, of course, as we went through almost a six month trial there's not one shred of evidence. We were fully acquitted on every single count, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty."

But there were people out blasting me, trying to taint the jury pool, saying things that were just not true. So I really don't think that we should be judging that situation, and we need to wait and see what happens.

HANNITY: I want to go through this, because I think this is very important. And you were found not guilty of all of the charges here. But originally, and this started, what, in March of 2003?

SCRUSHY: That's right.

HANNITY: Ended in June 2005?

SCRUSHY: Right.

HANNITY: So it's more than two years of your life and the charge was originally that you were accused of orchestrating 2.7 billion in accounting fraud.

You had faced at one point up to 450 years in prison, $30 million in fines. I mean, basically you're looking at your life being over but them you found not guilty. How did that happen?

SCRUSHY: Well, you know, it's really interesting. If you look at the amount of time that was involved, before they brought the charges. They started this investigation, a few days. This — you heard the concept of shock and awe tactics.

HANNITY: Sure.

SCRUSHY: Well, in just a short period of time, they came in, when the government came in to do this investigation they didn't spend a lot of time doing it. They had a guy come in and wear a wire for a couple of days.

They should have taken their time. They should have been slow about their investigation. I think they've learned a lesson here. If you want to find out who's involved in a crime. You need to take some time to investigate it before you run out and start making charges.

HANNITY: To what extent is this a problem? We see all these images of these big CEOs, these lavish parties that cost millions, the private jets, the lifestyle.

And the people look at that and they just assume, in the case of the gentleman we're looking at on the screen there, they just assume there's corruption involved.

Were you living extravagantly? Were you creating any impression that maybe, hey, "He's got to be guilty. Look at how he's living. Look at how much — the woman and the corporation paid him?

SCRUSHY: I think there are people that want to jump on that and say, well, just because somebody is making a lot of money. Look, I don't know...

HANNITY: I believe you can make money, but I think you've got to make money for the taxpayers and investors.

SCRUSHY: I think you have to do that. I think that's right. And you know, I don't want to be compared with what some of the other people.

HANNITY: I agree with that, but does that — I think that gives a false impression here. Maybe you want an opportunity.

SCRUSHY: I would like to say, if someone takes $3 million or $4 million out of a company and spends it on themselves, they shouldn't do that.

HANNITY: Yes.

SCRUSHY: But I didn't do that. The government was not able to put anything like that on the table when they came in.

HANNITY: Do you think you get your good name back, as Ray Donovan said, or do you feel like this hangs over you forever?

SCRUSHY: You know, we haven't really been out trying to get our good name back. We've been trying to just — you know, trying to live our life. We have nine children and we have a ministry. We have a television show. And we're very busy doing a lot of things. Hopefully we'll get it back.

COLMES: Thank you for being with us. Mr. Scrushy. Thank you for being with us.

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