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WorldCom CEO loses Supreme Court appeal bid

25 years in the pokey

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Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers lost his bid to get the US Supreme Court to hear the appeal of his conviction for presiding over the most spectacular accounting fraud in American history.

Ebbers argued the trial judge in his case erred by refusing to grant immunity to several prospective defense witnesses. That denial prevented Ebbers from presenting evidence that would have cleared him of wrongdoing, Ebbers's attorneys claimed. They also said the judge wrongly instructed the jury that Ebbers could be convicted based on "conscious avoidance," according to news reports from Reuters and Bloomberg.

In 2005, a federal jury in New York convicted Ebbers of nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and other crimes that led to WorldCom's bankruptcy three years earlier. An appeals court upheld that ruling and rejected arguments similar to those made by Ebbers to the Supreme Court, letting stand a prison sentence of 25 years.

The Supreme Court rejected Ebbers's appeal without comment.

The prosecution by the US government was part of a crack down on corporate accounting fraud following high-profile scandals at Enron, Tyco and other companies. Ebbers was convicted largely on the testimony of former WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan, who said his boss hid costs to inflate revenue. The 65-year-old Ebbers is scheduled to be released from prison in 2028.

WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy as MCI, which was later acquired by Verizon. ®

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