Ebbers jail time put off, for now

Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom, won himself six more months of freedom. On Wednesday a federal judge granted Ebbers a reprieve while his lawyers appeal his conviction.

In July Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the accounting fraud that nearly brought down WorldCom, now known as MCI.

According to reports, Ebbers lawyers are appealing his conviction on the grounds that the judge in the case gave the jury inappropriate instructions about his knowledge of WorldCom's accounting fraud.

Ebbers was expected to report to a medium-security federal prison in Oakdale, La., on Oct. 12. If Ebbers loses his appeal he'll likely report to prison in April instead.

But the judge has not only given Ebbers a reprieve, but a glimmer of hope that his fate may change.

According to court documents, the judge says she granted the stay because Ebbers is not likely to flee, and his lawyers have raised questions that could result in a change in his conviction and possibly a new trial.

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Denise Pappalardo

Network World (US online)
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