Reporter Says Scrushy Stacked the Media and Jury

"Throughout the six-month trial that led to Richard Scrushy's acquittal in the $2.7 billion fraud at HealthSouth Corp., a small, influential newspaper consistently printed articles sympathetic to the ... fired CEO." The author of those stories, Audry Lewis, now says "she was secretly working on behalf of Scrushy, who she says paid her $11,000 through a public relations firm," The Lewis Group. Audry Lewis wrote the articles, "sent unedited copies" to Scrushy and the PR firm's Jesse Lewis, and Lewis placed the stories in The Birmingham Times, where his son is editor. Audry Lewis and Rev. Herman Henderson "now say Scrushy owes them $150,000 for the newspaper stories and other public relations work, including getting black pastors to attend the trial in a bid to sway the mostly black jury." The prosecutor, Alice Martin, said, "If you want to pay someone to write favorable stories and can get a paper to print them, I don't know of any law it violates."


The Birmingham Times [ has more information], including contradictory claims about Rev. Henderson's role:

Henderson says Scrushy preached at Believers Temple on March 20 and gave the church a $5,000 donation. Afterwards, at Scrushy's urging, Henderson began contacting other churches about allowing Scrushy to speak, he said. ...

In July, Scrushy taped conversations with Henderson.

"I had no contract with you, written, verbal or e-mail," Scrushy can be heard telling Henderson on a tape made July 14. Scrushy said he made the tape, and one the next day, because Henderson's demands for money were becoming more frequent and strident.

Henderson can be heard objecting to Scrushy's contention of no agreement between the men. He retracted that objection in a tape-recorded conversation the next day, apologizing for asking for money and not disputing Scrushy's repeated contention that Henderson hadn't been hired to do anything.