Bernard J. Ebbers, the former chief executive of WorldCom Inc., will remain free on bail as the appeal of his March conviction continues.


Ebbers, 63, had been expected to report to prison on Oct. 12 to begin serving a 25-year sentence after being found guilty of securities fraud in March. His attorneys have challenged the judge's instruction to jurors that they could find Ebbers guilty if they believed he suspected a crime was being committed but intentionally looked the other way.  The appeal could take more than a year.

And on another issue, prosecutors have said that even if an appeals court determines the sentence was too harsh, any revised sentence is unlikely to not include prison time. Federal sentencing guidelines had suggested a sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment. Erroneously declared revenues and expenses at WorldCom led to the discovery of an $11 billion accounting fraud and a loss of over $2.2 billion to investors. Ebbers took the stand late in his trial and insisted he was unfamiliar with the details of accounting.

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