Former WorldCom chief executive Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison today after a federal judge turned down his request for a new trial earlier this week.
Judge Barbara S. Jones handed down the sentence in federal district court in Manhattan. He will report to prison on Oct. 12.
Ebbers, 63, had faced a potential prison sentence of 85 years. Federal sentencing guidelines, which a Supreme Court ruling declared nonbinding last year, suggested a sentence of 30 years to life imprisonment. Ebbers originally asked for a term "substantially below" life in prison, citing poor health and a history of charitable works. His attorneys spoke before the sentencing, and more than 150 people submitted letters on his behalf to the court.
The sentencing came more than two years after an internal auditor started asking questions about erroneously declared revenues and expenses at WorldCom, which led to the discovery of an $11 billion accounting fraud, the largest securities fraud in history.
Ebbers has already agreed to pay $5 million and transfer the majority of his assets to a liquidation fund to settle all civil charges related to the scandal. He was found guilty of securities fraud in March -- including one count of conspiracy, one count of securities fraud and seven counts of false regulatory filings -- after improper accounting resulted in the eventual Chapter 11 bankruptcy of WorldCom, and a loss of over $2.2 billion to investors. He took the stand late in the trial and insisted he was unfamiliar with the details of accounting.
In the rejected request for a new trial, Ebbers' lawyers had sought the testimony of three former WorldCom executives, all of whom had invoked their Fifth Amendment right and did not testify during Ebbers' trial.
Five more former company executives and accountants, all of whom pleaded guilty in the fraud, will be sentenced later this summer.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access