Jewels of former HealthSouth chief Scrushy's wife sold

NEW YORK Thu Dec 9, 2010 9:20pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A trove of jewelry belonging to the wife of imprisoned former HealthSouth chief Richard Scrushy raised nearly $1.5 million at auction on Thursday with proceeds going to shareholders damaged by an accounting scandal.

The sale of Leslie Scrushy's rings, bracelets, earring sets and pendants is to pay HealthSouth shareholders and lawyers as part of a $3 billion award in Scrushy's 2009 trial.

Among the items auctioned were a 21-carat diamond ring which sold for $752,500; a pair of platinum, gold, diamond and ruby ear clips that fetched $122,500; and a platinum and diamond bracelet that sold for $176,500.

Six other pieces fetched winning bids ranging from $27,500 to $110,500, according to the auction house, Sotheby's, which offered the items as part of its Magnificent Jewels auction.

The auction was also meant to avoid further court action on charges that Leslie Scrushy attempted to shelter some of her husband's wealth, said Ralph Cook, a lawyer with Hare Wynn Newell and Newton.

Attorneys for HealthSouth investors have to date recovered Scrushy assets that include several mansions, his vintage car collection, boats, planes and various investments.

Scrushy founded HealthSouth in 1984 and built it into a large company specializing in medical rehabilitation.

A Christian minister known for a lavish lifestyle, Scrushy was accused of directing HealthSouth to overstate revenues by at least $2.6 billion between 1996 and 2002.

He was acquitted of criminal charges in 2005 but is serving a six-year, 10-month federal prison term in Beaumont, Texas, after being convicted on bribery charges in 2006.

In 2009 he was found liable in civil court for accounting fraud and ordered to pay the $3 billion award.

(Reporting by Verna Gates and Chris Michaud; Editing by Peter Bohan and Greg McCune)

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