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Tape shows Scrushy fearing consequences

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- As agents closed in on fraud at HealthSouth Corp. two years ago, then-chief executive Richard Scrushy told an aide ''everybody goes down" if problems with the rehabilitation giant's financial statements become public, according to a secretly made recording played at Scrushy's trial yesterday.

The recording was made in March 2003 by former HealthSouth chief financial officer Bill Owens, who has since pleaded guilty in the fraud.

While prosecutors contend the recording proves Scrushy was behind a scheme to overstate earnings by $2.7 billion over seven years beginning in 1996, the defense claims it demonstrates Scrushy's innocence by revealing Owens as the mastermind.

Several times in the recording -- made shortly before a raid on HealthSouth headquarters -- Scrushy asked Owens ''What do you want me to do?" and referred to things Owens had done regarding the company's finances.

Scrushy later said: ''If you want to go public with all of this, then you might as well get ready for . . . Get fired, it's all gone, everybody goes down. And it's all done."

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