Accounting & Tax

Ebbers Found Guilty on All Charges

Eight of the nine counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years each.
Stephen TaubMarch 15, 2005

Former WorldCom chief executive officer Bernard Ebbers was convicted on all nine charges for his role in the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

A federal jury found the 63-year-old Ebbers guilty of one count each of conspiracy and securities fraud and seven counts of making false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to reports. Eight of the nine charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 10 years each.

As the jury delivered the verdict, according to wire services reports, the former chief executive sat hunched in his seat with a reddened face while his wife cried. Afterward, Ebbers was allowed free on bail; he and his wife were last seen riding off in a taxi from the downtown New York courtroom.

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Sentencing was scheduled for June 13.

Jurors, who deliberated for eight days, apparently did not buy Ebbers’ defense that he had no idea a fraud was being committed at the telecommunications giant now known as MCI Inc. The $11 billion fraud caused the company to lose $180 billion in market value.

“We are obviously extremely disappointed,” Reid Weingarten, Ebbers’ attorney, told reporters outside the courthouse. “CEOs have a responsibility, but that doesn’t mean they committed crimes when misdeeds are committed if they don’t know about them.”

He said he plans to appeal the decision.

Weingarten told reporters that he felt testimony from WorldCom’s former chief financial officer Scott Sullivan played an important role in the jury’s decision. “Scott Sullivan testified for five days and incriminated Mr. Ebbers for five days,” said an obviously disheartened Weingarten.

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