Richard Scrushy's trial opened today with a prosecutor telling jurors the fired HealthSouth CEO was the driving force behind a conspiracy to overstate earnings by about $2.7 billion.
U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said other employees generated bogus financial statements to make it appear HealthSouth was meeting Wall Street forecasts from 1996 through 2002.
Martin said Scrushy was getting private reports on the company's true financial condition, but he never told investors.
The defense conceded in court documents that a fraud occurred, but Scrushy lawyer Jim Parkman told jurors that Scrushy was not part of the scheme.
Prosecutors are seeking $278 million in personal assets, including waterfront homes, luxury cars and a yacht, as well as a prison sentence that could amount to life if convicted.
The defense said it expects prosecutors to present testimony by all five of HealthSouth's chief financial officers.
The five agreed to plead guilty in the criminal fraud case, which surfaced in March 2003.