Former WorldCom CEO Ebbers sentenced to 25 years

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bernard Ebbers

Bernard Ebbers, founder and former CEO of telecommunications giant WorldCom, now MCI, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the corporate accounting fraud totaling US$11 billion. The once-powerful company plunged into bankruptcy in July 2002.

The sentence was handed down by Manhattan federal court Judge Barbara S. Jones. Mr. Ebbers, who is 63, asked for a lenient sentence due to his failing health and a heart condition, and because of his philanthropy.

Prosecutors pushed for a life sentence, and said the sentencing "should prove to be a deterrent" to corporate wrongdoing. "The enormity of the crimes that Ebbers committed cannot be overstated: the fraud at WorldCom was the largest securities fraud in history," prosecutors wrote in papers filed last month.

Jones rejected defense lawyers' contentions that the government overstated the losses, and that Ebbers was not a mastermind of the wrongdoing. Jones believed Ebbers deserved a harsh sentence, and said "Mr. Ebbers was the instigator of the fraud.".

Ebbers appeared to be tense when arriving at the court and even shoved a photographer out of his way. After the sentence was given, Ebbers was seen weeping. His first day of prison will be October 12.

In March, Ebbers was found guilty of fraud, conspiracy, and seven counts of filing false documents with regulators.

WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy last year under the name MCI, which was one of the many companies WorldCom had acquired. In May, Verizon agreed to acquire the company.

Sources

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