At least one person in the crowd packing the fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron Corp.’s former chief executives can see things from their point of view — fired HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.
He dropped in on the federal trial of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling Wednesday afternoon to hear testimony from Enron’s ex-chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. The key prosecution witness has linked himself and his former bosses to an overarching effort to lie about the Houston-based energy company’s financial health before it collapsed into bankruptcy proceedings in December 2001.
Scrushy was acquitted last year of criminal charges stemming from a $2.7 billion accounting fraud at the Birmingham, Ala., medical services company. He spent five months in a federal courtroom and listened to five of his former CFOs testify against him.
He said he was in Houston “on business” — which he declined to explain — and said he decided to visit the trial to hear some of Fastow’s testimony while waiting for a flight home. Scrushy observed the trial from an overflow room with an audio and video link to the trial courtroom. He didn’t visit the trial courtroom itself, which was full.
“I wanted to hear for myself what was going on,” Scrushy said. “I wouldn’t believe anything that man (Fastow) said. This is horrible that there are people who would do something like this to a company.”
Scrushy listened as Fastow was cross-examined by lead Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli about schemes in which he skimmed millions of dollars at Enron’s expense in 1997 that he hid from his bosses.