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“Thank God, The Lie Is Over”: Weston Smith Discusses HealthSouth

Weston+delivers+his+story+at+Brookens+Auditorium
Weston delivers his story at Brookens Auditorium

Weston delivers his story at Brookens Auditorium

Nani Naresh

Nani Naresh

Weston delivers his story at Brookens Auditorium

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In the early 2000s, the massive private healthcare service HealthSouth was part of a large fraud scandal when CEO Richard M. Scrushy had allegedly been instructing his senior employees to artificially increase company earnings to impress investors. Weston Smith, the company’s then-chief financial officer(CFO) that ultimately blew the whistle on the company, talked about what he learned from the situation in Wednesday (Feb. 21) Speaker Series event, A HealthSouth Fraud: A Case of Ethical Malpractice.
Smith painted a picture of a life of life working under Scrushy: he would yell at an employee every day, and was competitive to the point of hiring professional players for the company’s friendly softball matches. When Smith read a book about sociopathy, he said, he was surprised Schrushy’s face wasn’t on the cover.
However, when Scrushy insisted they lie about company earnings, Smith did not fight back. The pressure to ‘save’ the company was too much, and he decided it was temporary and small so the fraud wasn’t a problem. Smith warned against this trap, bringing his point home by giving the audience an old radio that had his prison numbers carved on the bottom: 24042-001. Because he went along with the fraud, he served a 27-month prison sentence.
While the fraud occurred, slowly building up over 15 years, Smith was unable to sleep at night, and the stress caused his wife to divorce him. His life was falling apart as social responsibility weighed on him. In 2003, he finally went to the FBI and blew the whistle on the fraud. “Thank God, the lie is over,” Smith recalled thinking, despite his fear. That night, he slept well.
Smith’s Speaker Series focuses on social responsibility, reminding the audience that all it takes is one person to step up and make a difference as well as to remember not to get caught up in materialism and pride. Smith claims to feel richer than he ever was with the material wealth he had as CFO, and has since remarried his wife, who says she “got the old Weston back.”

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“Thank God, The Lie Is Over”: Weston Smith Discusses HealthSouth