WorldCom Flipper Gets 5 Years

Scott Sullivan, the architect of the accounting fraud scheme that toppled WorldCom, was sentenced today to five years in prison. He could have gotten 25 years, but he was rewarded for his cooperation in the case against former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, who got 25 years and will almost certainly die in prison.

Sullivan provided the only direct evidence at Ebber's trial that Ebbers knew of the fraud. But Ebbers testfied at his trial and while he did okay on direct, he didn't do so well on cross-examination. As I said at the time,

Why did Ebbers take the stand? With only one witness, Scott Sullivan, testifying that Ebbers knew about and endorsed the illegal accounting practice, why not just stick with an attack on Sullivan? When a defendant does great on direct exam, being questioned by his own lawyer, and then flubs it on cross, being questioned by the government, the contrast alone makes jurors think he's guilty. Just another reason why most defendants should not take the stand.

Testimony of cooperating coconspirators is purchased testimony. It is bought and paid for with promises of leniency, a commodity that is far more precious than money. There is something morally bankrupt about a system that convicts people and sends them to jail for decades based upon the uncorroborated testimony of these cooperating witnesses.

Whatever Ebbers knew or didn't know, if the only person providing direct evidence against him was a former participant in the illegal venture who made a deal with the government to provide evidence against Ebbers to save his own hide, we all lose.

White Collar Crime Blog weighs in. So do Houston's Clear Thinkers. [Via Sentencing Law and Policy.]

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    Re: WorldCom Flipper Gets 5 Years (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:11 PM EST
    As one of the unwashed masses that doesn't know all the ins and outs or the whys and wherefors, I have a question. Somebody explain to me why purchased testimony is allowed. Is this something that has been found to be OK by SCOTUS? If so, what was the argument and how in the world could they be so stupid? (that last part was rhetorical)

    Re: WorldCom Flipper Gets 5 Years (none / 0) (#2)
    by DawesFred60 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:12 PM EST
    No I will die in Prison this guy will be out within 3 years, why not say something about the bushonomics that your boy bush is doing right now to the people, if any of you were watching bush just put back the ideals of the long bonds, that will disguise the real deficits and place the massive debt on the poor working people. it in time will cause mass homeless and a collapse of the system. its not worldcom its the bush business.