Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030

NEW YORK -- Former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers today was slapped with a 25-year sentence for his role in an $11 billion corporate scandal, the largest of its kind in U.S. history.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones said during the sentencing that she had taken into account Ebbers's age, health, and charitable works. While Ebbers faced the possibility of an 85-year sentence, Judge Jones said it would have been "excessive" to force the 63-year old man to spend anything more than 30 years behind bars.

However, she added: "A sentence of anything less would not reflect the seriousness of this crime."

Following the pronouncement, Ebbers, accompanied by his wife Kristie, declined to make any statement in court and remained tight-lipped as he made his way through a scrum of photographers and reporters outside. The former WorldCom CEO must report to prison on October 12th.

Reid Weingarten, Ebbers’s lawyer, said that he was “extremely disappointed” and “very upset” with the sentence handed down to his client. “This was not a good morning,” he said. However, he promised to pursue Ebbers’s appeal “as vigorously as possible” (see Ebbers Is Appealing).

Jacob Zamansky, a lawyer representing a number of WorldCom shareholders told Light Reading that the sentence was “tough but fair.” Prior to sentencing, both defense and prosecution attempted to tug at Judge Jones’s heartstrings in a last-ditch attempt to influence the sentence. Henry J. Bruin Jr., a former WorldCom employee and shareholder, told the court how his life had been ruined by the demise of the telecom giant, swallowing up his pension, savings, and stock options.

Bruin, who was been unable to find employment since getting laid off at WorldCom in early 2003, said that his life had been “destroyed by the greed of Bernie Ebbers and his co-conspirators.” "Where do I get my life savings back from, or my career reinvigorated?” Bruin asked the court.

Weingarten, however, highlighted Ebbers’s charitable works and heart condition in an effort to sway the judge. “It’s common knowledge that the Bureau of Prisons is not the place that you want to go if you have a complicated health condition,” he said. The lawyer also described Ebbers as an “angel” who has contributed over $100 million to charity.

Ebbers was found guilty for his part in the WorldCom scandal earlier this year when a jury convicted him of securities fraud, conspiracy, and seven counts of false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). (See Ebbers: GUILTY!, Ebbers Trial: Sex, Drugs & Numbers, Ebbers Day II: 'Look After Pennies', and Ebbers: Of Motels & Men).

WorldCom's $11 billion accounting scandal put the carrier into bankruptcy, but the company later cleaned house and re-emerged as MCI Inc. (Nasdaq: MCIP).

Earlier this year, a poll of Light Reading and NDCF readers said that Ebbers should do some serious jail time. Around 35 percent of people said he should go down for ten to 20 years and nearly 33 percent said that Ebbers should spend the rest of his life behind bars (see Readers Want Jail for Ebbers).

But this criminal case is not the only legal action Ebbers faced in recent months. He has already agreed to hand over most of his personal assets to WorldCom shareholders and bondholders who lost out in the aftermath of the fraud. The settlement was reached last month with New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, who led a class action lawsuit against the former WorldCom chief (see Ebbers Gives It Up and Ebbers Sells His Ass(ets), Settles Case).

Earlier this week, a judge approved the settlement, which could be worth as much as $45 million.

Scott Sullivan, the former WorldCom CFO whose testimony helped convict Ebbers, faces sentencing later this summer for his role in the fraud (see Ebbers: Bumpkin or Bully?).

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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vermillion 12/5/2012 | 3:07:56 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 YES!!!

Now let's have a song... I know just the thing, an oldie (early 90's) but a goodie. It's about a guy named Bernie getting sent off to the Big House after some heinous crimes. Perfect!

Artist: Lowest of the Low
Song: So Long Bernie
Source: www.maplemusic.com

If the best revenge is living well, then let's all walk out our non-barred doors and breath the fresh/polluted air and think of good ol' Bernie!

Living well...
st0 12/5/2012 | 3:07:56 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 Ebbers is gone... what the mess he left in telecom here is going to stay... South Korea got IT839 program for their country, hire engineer in the track load... where are the similar initiative in north America? IT is infrastructure issue, the IT839 address the core R&D target area as a whole... any one know about the similar effort in north america? We are far behind to the broadband deployment, many telecom still feel the pain of last bubble. Photonics assets still on sale in track load...send Ebber to 25 years is a start, but to pick up all the pieces after the bubble before all the good engineer/researches retire to the cottage may be more of an issue...
ATT is almost gone, VZ, SBC and others are still battling each others in "competitiveness" game... we are sure all the loosers in the Ebbers plot. More so in a national, if not regional sense...
- st
LightMan 12/5/2012 | 3:08:02 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 Yep - Drug laws are out of wack. Knew someone who unfortunately got mixed up with making meth and became addicted. In his efforts to feed his habits he started to sell it. His only customer - the DEA. He also was buying the stuff to make it from the DEA, so they were feeding his efforts. For two months he sold big quantities to them and only them. then in a showcase sting they announced they busted one of the biggest meth dealers in Houston. While he was an idiot, he certainly didn't deserve the 10 years in federal prison (no parole in Fed) he got for being a setup addict.

Cost to society = $100k *10 + the cost of the sting operation

shaggy 12/5/2012 | 3:08:02 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 Kozlowski, that is. I believe his sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug 2nd.

what I will be curious to see is if his sentence is larger or comparable to Ebbers.

Bernie was up on accounting fraud charges. The scope and impact of his crime affected 1000's of people in a most direct way. For this he gets 25 years in the fed pen.

Kozlowski is just a common thief, having embezzeled millions of dollars away from the company for his personal exploits. While this caused the company's stock to suffer,I don't think it ruined 1000's of people's retirement plans.

Dennis faces 15-30 years in state prison (Ugh!) for what is seemingly a lesser offense.

granted, he has the possibility of parole (if he survives) but it still seems to me there is not an a fair matching of penalty to crime between these two cases.

whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 3:08:02 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 "I am only pointing out that there are greater dangers to society receiving lesser sentences if any."


And like many of the drug posession laws are not completely excessive?

If we practiced capitalistic justice, he would be in jail x years for y dollars.

If a guy who robs a 7-11 for $250 and all the cigarettes he can cary can get 25 years to life, Bernie deserves about a billion years.

Like all whitecollar criminals, he is skating.

bored_lurker 12/5/2012 | 3:08:03 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 skinbop said "I am sure there are a lot worse dangers to society on the streets today..."

Really? How many others on the street ruined the lives of 10s of thousand? How many stole billions?

Certainly there are people who commit horrific crimes. Selling drugs (the #1 reason for incarceration in the US) gets people high which can lead to ruining their life. The good folks at WC ruined the lives of thousands. A murder takes the life of one or perhaps a few. This stole the lives of many, perhaps not the breath of life but truly much of the joy of it. I hold certain truths to be inalienable, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property rights), Burnie and his gang took countless people's pursuit of happiness away.

Imagine a world filled with Bernies. Imagine every company out there was like WC and Enron, having people who didn't care who they hurt by embezzling $M or even $B. Now what does our economy and your life look like?

The parent is correct - FINALLY! If the government does not stop this behavior with strong penalties then we can just say good by to the way of life as we know it.
DZED 12/5/2012 | 3:08:03 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 Hopefully other actually fraudulent execs are currently soiling their trousers.

I can think of one or two.
MP_UK 12/5/2012 | 3:08:04 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030
I'd just like to add that IMHO, this is a good result. It certainly proves that US justice has got some teeth, and that no matter how much money someone can spend on a lawyer, guilty is guilty.

Maybe Bernie has been made an example of, but I'm still not feeling very sorry for him. Hopefully other would-be fraudulent executives are paying attention!
optical 12/5/2012 | 3:08:05 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 Bernie's sentence is just Act I. I want to see what Scott Sullivan gets because he's just as guilty!
lightreceding 12/5/2012 | 3:08:06 AM
re: Ebbers Sentenced: See You in 2030 And what or who might those dangers be? You mentioned "street" in your first post. I think you are exibiting a common misconception. Most Americans are so irrationally frightened of street crime that they pushed for most of our crime fighting resources to be focused on it.

White collar crime is a much bigger problem. White collar crime has wiped out the savings of tens of thousands of Americans. It is about time that one of these financial mega criminals got what he deserves.
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