“Once the toast of Birmingham, Alabama, worth some $300 million,” wealthy televangelist and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy was accused of fraud and convicted (not of the fraud, but of bribery on an earlier charge) and had to pay $2.8 billion to shareholders and go to prison. ABC’s Nightline invited us to sympathize with him last night via his third wife Leslie in “Wealthy Convicts’ Wives: How They Cope.”
The couple had to sell their yachts, airport hangar, and other properties, described by ABC as “their life” (some of this swag was bought by aggrieved HealthSouth shareholders) and now Leslie has to drive out to the prison to visit Richard. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to take a bus like other inmates’ family members do, or rely on heavily surcharged phone calls…
Also, “Friends turned their backs. The Scrushys were even asked to leave a function at their own church.”
“Sometimes I wonder if the judges realize that they punish the families many times more than they punish the inmate,” says Scrushy from prison, where he is working on a Christian album, a number from which he sings for Nightline. He maintains his innocence.
We wonder what HealthSouth shareholders and the workers who got laid off think about that. Well, we’re just going to have to rely on the example of Ashley Calles and Amanda Vasquez to call us to Christian charity on this one. Merry Christmas, everybody!