FILE - In this April 5, 2002, file photo, WorldCom Inc., CEO Bernard Ebbers is shown in Jackson, Miss. Ebbers, a former telecommunications executive, was convicted in one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history and is asking a judge to shorten his prison sentence so he could be released as his health deteriorates. Ebbers was convicted in New York in 2005 on securities fraud and other charges and started serving a 25-year sentence in 2006. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Ailing ex-telecom executive Ebbers seeks release from prison

November 15, 2019 - 12:59 pm

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A former telecommunications executive convicted in one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history is asking a judge to shorten his prison sentence so he can be released as his health deteriorates.

Bernard Ebbers led WorldCom, which collapsed and went into bankruptcy in 2002 after revelations of $11 billion in accounting fraud in the Mississippi-based company. He was convicted in New York in 2005 on securities fraud and other charges and received a 25-year sentence. He has been imprisoned since September 2006.

A federal judge has set a Monday deadline for federal officials to provide an update about Ebbers’ health.

His attorneys say Ebbers, 78, has recently lost weight, is legally blind and has several medical problems, including a heart ailment.

“Because of his diminished eyesight, Ebbers unintentionally bumped into another prisoner while walking in the facility in September of 2017. The prisoner came to Ebbers’ open cell later in the day and physically attacked him for bumping into him,” his attorneys say in court papers filed Sept. 5.

The papers say the attack fractured the bones around Ebbers’ eyes and caused blunt head trauma and other injuries. They also say Ebbers was put into solitary confinement because his “severely limited eyesight” made him unable to identify the attacker.

One of Ebbers’ daughters submitted a request in July that her father receive compassionate release from a federal prison medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Court papers say a Bureau of Prisons official denied that request in August.

Ebbers’ attorneys are asking that his sentence be reduced to the time he has already served and that he be released.

In court papers filed Oct. 4, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, objected to releasing Ebbers.

“Ebbers has not carried his burden of demonstrating that his medical conditions have substantially diminished his ability to provide self-care within the environment of a correctional facility,” Berman said in the filing that was also signed by an assistant U.S. attorney, Gina Castellano. “Ebbers’ medical conditions remain manageable — and are being well-managed — through treatment by the Bureau of Prisons.”

____

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()