A pastor said Thursday that former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy paid him to advocate the executive's cause among Birmingham's black community during Scrushy's fraud trial in June.

Herman Henderson, pastor of Believers Temple Church, told The Birmingham News that he booked Scrushy to preach in black churches and brought supporters to the trial at the HealthSouth executive's request. And a writer for the Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black-owned newspaper, says that Scrushy paid her to write favorable articles, which he reviewed before print.

Scrushy denies the claims. A jury acquitted Scrushy on June 28 after determining he had nothing to do with a $2.7 billion fraud scheme in the chain of health clinics he led.

Henderson says Scrushy agreed to pay him $5,000 per month over two years. He showed the News copies of checks, signed by Scrushy, totaling $25,000. Scrushy told the News he gave that money to Henderson for a church building project and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. So why did the pastor go public? He and the Times writer, Audry Lewis, say Scrushy still owes them $150,000.

Scrushy vehemently denies Henderson's account of their relationship. "That guy is a shyster," Scrushy told the News. "You need to know I'm about ready to sue him for extortion and he's harassed my family, my wife and I, ever since that trial began. … He has stalked us. He has harassed us. He has tried to con us."

Other black pastors who supported Scrushy during the trial said he offered them nothing for their support. Bishop Theo Bailey, pastor of Christ Temple Deliverance, told the News that Henderson has earned a reputation for profiting from misfortune. Bailey said, "He's basically a guy who extorts money from people."

Before his ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.