Karma is a bitch!
The former chief of WorldCom, convicted in one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history, died just over a month after his early release from prison. Bernard Ebbers was 78.
The Canadian-born former telecommunications executive died Sunday in Brookhaven Mississippi, surrounded by his family, according to a family statement.
WorldCom Inc. collapsed and went into bankruptcy in 2002, following revelations of an $11 billion accounting fraud that included pressure by top executives on subordinates to inflate numbers to make the company seem more profitable. The collapse caused losses to stockholders, including those who had invested through retirement plans.
Ebbers was convicted in New York in 2005 on securities fraud and other charges and received a 25-year sentence. A federal appeals court judge who upheld Ebbers’ conviction in 2006 wrote that WorldCom’s fraudulent accounting practices were “specifically intended to create a false picture of profitability even for professional analysts that, in Ebbers’ case, was motivated by his personal financial circumstances.”
According to an October 1997 profile by The Associated Press, the Canadian-born Ebbers received a basketball scholarship at Mississippi College, where he majored in physical education. After graduating, he coached high school teams for a year before investing in a hotel; he eventually amassed a chain of Best Westerns in Mississippi and Texas, as well as a car dealership in Columbia, Mississippi.
Bernie Ebbers was “the telephone equivalent of Bill Gates.”
By the time of its collapse over its accounting fraud scandal in 2002, WorldCom was the nation’s second-largest long-distance business. Ebbers left that year and following his conviction, was imprisoned from September 2006 until Dec. 21, when he was released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
In the meantime, WorldCom reemerged as MCI, taken over by Verizon, and relocated to Ashburn, Virginia.
U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni said late last year that it fell within her discretion to order the early release of Ebbers after a lawyer cited severe medical problems and said that Ebbers had experienced severe weight loss. At over 6 feet tall, he had dropping from above 200 pounds to 147 pounds. Attorney Graham Carner told the judge it was possible his client might not live another 18 months.
Among other ailments, Ebbers had heart disease, Carner said. Ebbers was not in court when Caproni announced her ruling on Dec. 18; his lawyers said he was hospitalized.
“While Mr. Ebbers is physically alive … his quality of life is gone………If he was released today, Mr. Ebbers is not going to be playing tennis or running a business.”Graham Carner