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Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts

The verdict is in on Bernie Ebbers in the WorldCom trial. Guilty on all counts.

If you haven't been following the case, the New York Times has a good audio slide account.

Thanks to Political Teen who put up this video of our Ebbers comments today on MSNBC's Connected Coast to Coast.

Background and trial developments here, here and here.

Update: What is Ebbers looking at sentence-wise? WhiteCollarCrime blog takes a look, noting that Ebbers' judge, Barbara Jones, gave a downward departure to Bill Cosby's putative daughter Autumn Jackson after her conviction for extorting money from him. Her guidelines were 57 - 71 months and the Judge sentenced her to 26 months, allowing for the possibility that she could get out in six months. The conviction was later reversed on appeal.

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  • Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:23:59 AM EST
    Just curious, do the defense lawyers on this site feel bad for their colleagues when one of these types of defendants is found guilty? Ba-bye Mr. Ebbers.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:24:32 AM EST
    I was having a rough day, this cheered me up. I'd prefer he be sentenced to work at a register at McDonald's for 20 years (that would teach him how to balance a sheet), but prison will do. Any sentencing predictions? The link said it could be up to 85 years.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#3)
    by desertswine on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:25:09 AM EST
    Bernie is facing a possible 85 years (but not likely).

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:34:03 AM EST
    ken lay must be crapping his pants right now. oh wait, he's a bush buddy, he's fine.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:34:51 AM EST
    I don't like convictions where the prosecution's main evidence of guilt comes from a co-operating co-participant in the illegal venture who is singing for his supper. Without Scott Sullivan's testimony, I don't think there would have been a conviction. His testimony against Ebbers was bought and paid for with promises of leniency in his own case.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:53:40 AM EST
    this should end the "it only happens to Martha conversations..." and her stock has started to sink to the level where it rightly belongs before people started puffing up her release and lying about her possibly winning her appeal and never mentioning all the civil suits she faces or the information that came out in the hearing that made it clear she was using company funds for personal expenses I hope Bernie gets his own reality show too -- I would like to see what his idea of reality is

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:56:55 AM EST
    I'm guessing 20 years (mostly on the conspiracy to defraud charge), parole in 8 years.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:00:32 AM EST
    ...the prosecution's main evidence of guilt comes from a co-operating co-participant in the illegal venture who is singing for his supper.
    yeah, never saw/understood how that lead to justice. it's like torture, you'd say anything to stop the pain. i.e., "sammyTheBull confessed to 19 murders, ratted out Gotti for conspiracy to commit 1 murder. gotti dies in jail, sammy gets witness protection, later convicted of selling X, doing 20". just don't seem like justice was served.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:03:48 AM EST
    Rats are the grease in the wheels of our justice system, no doubt. They are the lowest of the low. Would the authorities catch half as many people w/o them? As for this case, the positive of an extremely wealthy man being unable to buy a non-guilty verdict far outweighs the negative (using a rat to get the conviction) for me.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:07:39 AM EST
    TL, Agreed, but i think it was largely a circumstantial case against ebbers, ultimately. the jury was, too some degree doubtlessly, dubious of sullivan's testimony, but the idea that ebbers was this dupe at the top overwhelmed that doubt, i believe. it simply defies intellectual, moral, legal logic that you make it to the ceo level without having a clue about the real finances of your company. just doesn't hold water, UNLESS the defense can go back in his history and show him to be a surprisingly inept ceo in the past. anyway, i'm a moron. you're the defense lawyer and i certainly respect your experience, more than mine in this arena, i just don't think this is the case to use as any shining example for either side, but it's over for now.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#11)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:20:32 AM EST
    Sacraficial lamb. Nothing will change

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sailor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 11:33:33 AM EST
    I agree in principle with TL; I never understood how you can't 'pay' for testimony (experts excepted) but a prosecutor can bargain something much more valuable. Here's a nice amicus curiae brief on the subject.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:37:50 PM EST
    The story the defense was trying to sell was ridiculous and the defense attorneys must have known Ebbers was lying when they put him on the stand. To believe otherwise contradicts everything that was ever written or said about Bernie Ebbers did business and his personality. Maybe there is a CEO out there that is so clueless that he wouldn't know about $11 billion worth of fraud in a $20 billion company, but it sure ain't Bernie Ebbers. Worldcom was his company, he built it from nothing. He was a micromanager and a hands-on kind of guy. There is no way that kind of fraud went on in his company without him knowing about it. He destroyed the telecom industry. I hope he gets the whole 85 years.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 12:47:46 PM EST
    Great post, dadler, I completely agree. This isn't the time to rant about circumstantial evidence and using a "rats" testimony. He was in charge and is responsible. CEOs get outrageous compensation in part because of the responsibility.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 02:13:24 PM EST
    bill hicks, thanks. i wasn't so much saying we shouldn't be talking about it -- i wouldn't want to be silencing anyone -- but that the case was about a lot of wealthy suits trying to save their asses, not some ghetto burgler with a snoozing p.d., and it speaks more to that, to me anyway, than to any overriding issues of literal legalisms or lack of corroborating evidence. (if all they had was sullivan's testimony, fine it's shady. but with his testimony came the personal portrait of him as a detail obsessed, stock price mad ceo, who certainly didn't fit the bill of dupe and the top.)

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 03:42:01 PM EST
    et al - Ebbers came from my industry. He, and others like him, did immense harm to thousands upon thousands of people. He was guilty as hell and my only complaint is that too many are getting away.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:21:02 PM EST
    Isn't it ridiculous that society would send someone like Ebbers to jail for more than a few years? It is a waste of resources. There are plenty of ways to punish other than incarcerating for long periods people who are not dangerous and will never be in a position to re-offend. What is the fascination with long jail sentences, e.g., Jamie Olis? Is five years not enough for something like this. What about diminishing returns to scale?

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:39:42 PM EST
    Well, one of those instances when Jim and I agree. On the point about justice and Ebbers serving time, I think it's too bad that he can't be forced to turn all over all of his wealth. He will lock it up in homesteads, annuities and other exempt instruments. Little justice in this matter, but a few years, like 40, will help him build character. Enjoy, Bernie.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:49:59 PM EST
    Dearest No Name - Ok. What? Make him work as a Walmart door greeter? Wear knock off running shoes instead of boots? Have "I am a thief" tattoed on his forehead? Your turn. CA - That's what, twice in two months? Great Scot!

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#20)
    by Richard Aubrey on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 07:55:57 PM EST
    Ebbers killed nobody. He destroyed, among other things, much of his own wealth. If he committed fraud, there are criminal penalties for that. It is not illegal to be incompetent or to go bankrupt. It's interesting to see calls for nearly life imprisonment, while a violent criminal is supposed to get--less than whatever he got which is more than lefties think he should have gotten. Sounds like classism to me. Most violent criminals commit violence against individuals in the lower classes. But screw a middle-class person out of some money--which he got by watching Enron or Ebbers pump the stock by means of fraud and hype--and then we get serious, man. Enron set up a complete bogus trading floor with a hundred--say some reports--bogus work stations at which Enron employees barked out orders to buy or sell to...other Enron employees. It was done to impress some visiting potential investors. Did none of those ringers tell anybody? Did they tell and nobody listened? Who wants to get the business editors and senior reporters in Houston together for an afternoon of sodium pentothal lattes?

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 08:27:39 PM EST
    Sounds like classism to me. Most violent criminals commit violence against individuals in the lower classes. But screw a middle-class person out of some money--which he got by watching Enron or Ebbers pump the stock by means of fraud and hype--and then we get serious, man. Are you serious man? Do you realize how much this man stole from me personally? If he was scamming old ladies by selling them shoddy home repairs door to door he would go to jail. He did the equivalent with a $20 billion company. It's stock fell from $70 to $.25. Not only did he destroy his company but he killed the rest of the industry because they tried to compete with a company that was cheating. Sprint's stock dropped from $60 to $2 (that's how he stole from me) and forced 13,000 layoffs. AT&T suffered a similar fate. Then there were all the smaller companies that just disappeared completely. 85 years for destroying an industry is a slap on the wrist.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 08:54:02 PM EST
    I saw a video with Bernie Ebbers and Bill Esrey (Sprint CEO) when WorldCom was attempting to merge with Sprint. The video was about 2 hours long and had Bernie and Bill sitting next to each other on bar stools. It was mandatory for Sprint employees to watch this video. Bernie was very aware of the Worldcom financial figures and was able to explain in depth why the Sprint acquisition would be good for both companies. I know without a doubt that Bernie knew what he was doing. Only this time he couldn’t hide the missing money in the murky depths of another takeover. Also, every 10 to 20 seconds he would sniff like he had just snorted way too much cocaine. In my opinion, Bernie is just another drug abuser that ruined his life. Unfortunately, not only did it ruin his life but also ruined the lives of thousands of other people their families and an industry. If he gets less than 20 years, then he is lucky. He should be tried as an Economic Terrorist, someone who knowingly does harm to the economy of the USA through criminal activity, regardless whether they intended to harm. Ken Lay should be in the same boat. Yes, I was laid off from Sprint after 20 years of service with them.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 09:42:38 PM EST
    Once upon a time, I had a couple of opportunities to visit ATT's headquarters in NJ. There were tours of the facilities including the very impressive network center with hundreds of screens of network maps, CNN, etc, education facilities, employee classes, and the fabulous cafeteria. Now it's a ghost facility, completely shut down. Thousands of jobs gone. And this s***head contributed towards that. I find that unforgivable. ATT was a huge employer in NJ. They are gone now.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#24)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Mar 15, 2005 at 10:13:18 PM EST
    Sailor, Singleton was a great case, but we all knew it wouldn't last, didn't we? It was too good to be true. (Sailor's link is here.) For those not familiar with the case, it argued (and won, later to be reversed en banc, by the 10th Circuit) that the federal bribery statute prohibits prosecutors from purchasing testimony with promises of leniency. From Sailor's link:
    Singleton was originally convicted of money laundering and conspiring to distribute cocaine. At first, a panel of the U.S.C.A. (10th Circuit) reversed her convictions, holding that the prosecuting attorney violated the so-called "anti-gratutuity statute", 18 U.S.C.§201(c)(2), when he offered leniency to a co-defendant in exchange for truthful testimony. Following that judgment, there was a general call to arms by prosecutors across the United States, who perceived — correctly — that their ability to make patches with accomplices and co-defendants was in jeopardy as a result of the judgment. The government then brought an application for reconsideration of the original appellate judgment, which was granted, and the matter went before the full twelve members of the Court of Appeals (10th Circuit). The full court ultimately reversed the first appeal court judgment and affirmed Singleton’s convictions, holding that the anti-gratuity statute did not apply to the government but only applied to private persons seeking to bribe witnesses.


    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#25)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 12:06:32 AM EST
    I've never understood what people have against circumstantial cases. They are much more often correct than eyewitness cases, though a pile of both is generally the way to go, not that you get a choice that often.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#26)
    by Richard Aubrey on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:52:48 AM EST
    Fred. You missed the point. Must be something in the water around here. My point is that violent criminals get all kinds of sympathy from liberals. White-collar perps get calls for lwop. The difference, as far as I can see, is that violent criminals generally injure members of the lower classes. White collar perps steal from the people you know. But the latter aren't physically injured or killed. Now, I believe I see some personal hostility coming through in your post. You got robbed. Would you consider the same kind of hostility toward the perp of a murder legit if it came from the next of kin? Would you scold those who got all upset about Nichols, a soldier in the fight against a racist justice system?

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#27)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 05:21:39 AM EST
    White-collar perps get calls for lwop. I don't believe in lwop except for the most heinous violent crimes (e.g., John Wayne Gacy) but I don't consider 85 years too harsh for the crimes Bernie Ebbers committed. I also believe in liberal credit for good behavior and educational credit while in prison so an 85 year term shouldn't amount to more than 30 years or so in jail (provided he doesn't shank anyone and gets his GED since he is apparently too stupid to read a spreadsheet). It's not my fault Bernie is 63 years old. And if you can name one white collar criminal who has served 20 years in jail I would appreciate the information.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 06:14:56 AM EST
    RA...I for one am sick of tired of corporate crooks getting away with their crimes, or getting a mere slap on the wrist. Hence the lack of sympathy for this common thief. When corporate crooks get the same treatment from the legal system as street crooks, maybe I'll have some sympathy. I see no difference between robbing a convenience store and robbing your companies coffers. A thief is a thief.

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#29)
    by Dadler on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 09:54:12 AM EST
    TL, Just curious, if making deals for testimony were ruled out, then wouldn't plea bargains also have to be scrapped? If testimony couldn't be tainted by payment/promise of leniency, then how could settlement of the entire case hinge on the funtionally same concept?

    Re: Bernie Ebbers Convicted on All Counts (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 16, 2005 at 04:10:48 PM EST
    TL, Is it your perception, having followed the case, that the Government proved Ebbers' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Given news accounts saying most of the jury did not entirely trust Scott Sullivan's testimony, yet managed to agree on conviction anyway...What does that say about the rest of the evidence? Excluding Sullivan's testimony, in other words, was the body of circumstantial evidence presented persuasive, in your view?