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Big Garea Fan
Bernie Ebbers Is Old and Sick. Let Him Out of Prison. The former WorldCom scamster has served more than 13 years of a 25-year sentence. The Bureau of Prisons should listen to his daughter’s pleas now.
Joe Nocera October 28, 2019, 10:30 AM EDT
It was an overcast day in July 2005 when Bernard J. Ebbers walked into a courthouse in lower Manhattan to learn his sentence. Four months earlier, Ebbers, the former chief executive officer of WorldCom Inc., had been convicted of overseeing an $11 billion accounting fraud, at the time the largest such fraud in U.S. history. Investors had lost billions.
Prosecutors wanted U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to sentence Ebbers to life in prison. Ebbers’s lawyers, needless to say, pleaded for leniency, citing the many letters that had been sent attesting to his good character. Federal guidelines called for Ebbers to receive a sentence of 30 years to life. But earlier that year, the Supreme Court had ruled that sentencing guidelines were discretionary, not mandatory.
Jones strayed from the guidelines, but not by much. Citing the billions of dollars lost, as well as Ebbers’s role as “a leader of criminal activity,” she sentenced Ebbers to 25 years in prison. “As Judge Jones explained the sentence,” wrote New York Times reporter Jennifer Bayot, “thunder from a summer storm could be heard inside the courtroom where Mr. Ebbers, 63, slumped forward in his chair and dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief from his pocket.”
Bayot described Ebbers’s sentence as “perhaps the toughest for corporate wrongdoing in recent memory.”
Bernie Ebbers is now 78. He is legally blind. He has a serious heart condition, and suffers from anemia. “He is frail, weak, shuffles, is hunched over, is skin and bones [and] his memory is fading,” wrote his daughter in a declaration she submitted to the court in September. And he’s still in prison, currently living in a federal medical facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
I have to say, I was surprised when I first learned that Ebbers was still behind bars. That’s partly because, Ponzi schemes aside, 1 judges don’t hand out 25-year sentences for corporate crimes anymore. The longest white-collar sentence I can recall in recent years was the 11 years given to Raj Rajaratnam, the former hedge fund billionaire convicted in 2011 of insider trading. (He was released from prison this summer, almost two years ahead of schedule.)
None of the other executives convicted of wrongdoing in the mid-2000s spent anywhere close to 25 years in prison. Andy Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron Corp. and the mastermind of the fraud there, agreed to a maximum sentence of 10 years as part of a cooperation agreement. In the end, he was sentenced to six years. His boss, former CEO Jeffrey Skilling, was originally sentenced to 24 years. But he was freed in February, after a little more than 12 years, because of a 2010 Supreme Court decision that mooted some of the charges.
John Rigas, the former CEO of Adelphia Communications Corp., was sentenced to 15 years in 2005. At the age of 91, suffering from cancer, he was released after a decade.
Then there’s Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive officer of Tyco International Ltd. In 2005, he was handed a sentence of about eight to 25 years; he wound up getting out after 6 ½ years. And let’s not forget Jamie Olis, the mid-level accountant who bore the brunt of a financial scandal at Dynegy Inc. when he declined to plead guilty to fraud, as his superiors had done. His shocking 24-year sentence was eventually reduced to 6 years.
Since 2005, when Ebbers was convicted, prosecutors and judges have dramatically changed the way they think about white-collar sentencing. Judges in the mid-2000s gave great weight to financial-loss calculations put forth by prosecutors when weighing sentences. Today, says Michael N. Levy, a criminal defense attorney, “there is an increasing recognition that the loss calculation is not always helpful in assessing the venality of a particular crime.”
Many judges no longer consider the sentencing guidelines at all. And courts, in a number of cases, have narrowed what constitutes white-collar crime.
One or more of these factors helped Skilling, Rigas and Olis (among others) get their sentences shortened. Yet inexplicably, none of this has helped Ebbers, who has now been in prison for over 13 years. In 2016, the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a report that found that “aging inmates are more costly to incarcerate due to increased medical needs.” It also noted that elderly inmates “engage in fewer misconduct incidents” and are less likely to be re-arrested after being released. The inspector general recommended that the Federal Bureau of Prisons loosen the requirements for compassionate release so that more elderly inmates could leave prison early. Even that hasn’t helped Ebbers.
In September, Ebbers’s daughter Joyce made a new attempt to get him released. She petitioned the Bureau of Prisons to grant him a compassionate release, citing his age and medical condition. The bureau has been notorious for delaying or denying the release of sick and elderly prisoners, and so it was here. On Aug. 12, Ken Hyle, an official in the bureau’s office of general counsel, denied the request. He said that although Ebbers had numerous ailments, they didn’t “substantially diminish his ability to function in a correction facility” — as if that was the only thing that mattered.
Thanks to a new law, the so-called First Step Act, 2 Hyle’s isn’t the final word. The act imposes a series of reforms on the federal prison system, including an expansion of the compassionate-release program. It also allows prisoners over the age of 60 to seek early release — and gives prisoners the right to appeal a decision by the Bureau of Prisons.
Its official title is TheFormerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.
[/list]This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Last edited on Tue Nov 5th, 2019 03:39 am by Big Garea Fan
Big Garea Fan
|As a former MCI WorldCom employee, f@#k you Bernie Ebbers!
The above article highlights everything that is wrong with the criminal justice system today. White collar criminals steal millions of dollars and rarely get jail time. When they do get incarcerated, their lawyers file appeal after appeal to get the jail time reduced. These bastards steal the life savings of hard-working people, serve their time in Club Fed, and get out serving a fraction of their sentence.
On the rare occasions when a "long sentence" is handed down by a judge, lawyers compare it against other shorter sentences that have been handed down to other criminals and lobby that their client should have his "long sentence" reduced.
What is really sad is how he fleeced the MCI WorldCom employees. Many of them had a lot of their retirement savings wrapped up in WorldCom stock. You would think that having stock in your own employer would be a smart investment move since you should be able to gauge how well the company is doing (you hear about the big deals, you see the newly hired employees for the big upcoming projects, the corporate homepage on your work computer trumpets the latest news...).
Nope! Instead, you go home from work on a Friday afternoon, turn on the TV and see the "WorldCom scandal" news on every channel...
F@#k you Bernine Ebbers!
Last edited on Tue Nov 5th, 2019 03:54 am by Big Garea Fan
Big Garea Fan
|And he is gonna be set free...
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the early release from prison of former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers — mastermind of one of the biggest accounting frauds in history — citing his increasingly dire medical condition.
Ebbers, 78, has so far served about 13 years of his 25-year prison sentence for orchestrating the $11 billion accounting fraud by defunct telecommunications company WorldCom.
He had been scheduled to be freed in 2028 before Wednesday’s ruling by Judge Valerie Caproni at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Ebbers, who has been held in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, was not in the courtroom during the hearing.
But his family was, and they wept when Caproni said he would be set free and allowed to live with them in Mississippi.
Ebbers, who is legally blind, has suffered from dementia, dramatic weight loss and other ailments while in prison, his family and lawyers have said.
Ebbers’ attorney, Graham Carner, told Caproni that Ebbers has been hospitalized three times in the past three weeks, and was admitted to a hospital again on the same day as the court hearing.
The lawyer argued that Ebbers had served what effectively was a life sentence when he was convicted after trial in 2005.
“His quality of life is gone,” Carner said. “He is, for all intents and purposes, dead.”
The lawyer noted that Barbara Jones, the now-retired federal judge who imposed Ebbers’ prison sentence, had written Caproni in support of his early release, saying Ebbers “has been punished enough.”
But prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, who in a court filing last month suggested Ebbers was faking his mental decline, argued Wednesday that cutting his prison term nearly in half would send the wrong message to the public.
Assistant United States Attorney Jason Cowley said that Carner’s characterization of Ebbers’ offenses as nonviolent and merely securities fraud threatened to minimize a crime that caused “billions of dollars in losses to millions of victims.”
Caproni admitted she was concerned that Ebbers was “trying to manipulate me” in terms of his purported symptoms of dementia.
But she said she was more concerned with his physical symptoms, including his steep weight loss.
Ebbers, who is more than 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds earlier this year, weighed 147 pounds as of last week according to prison medical records
“He appears to be wasting away,” the judge said.
Caproni said she had received “lots of letters” from victims of the WorldCom fraud who urged her to let him die in prison.
“Many have never bounced back,” she said of those people.
“But keeping him in jail won’t give them their money back.”
A spokesman for federal prosecutors declined to comment on Caproni’s ruling. It is not clear when Ebbers will be released.
Hall Of Famer
|Big Garea Fan wrote:
As a former MCI WorldCom employee, f@#k you Bernie Ebbers!While I am certainly sorry you lost a lot of your hard earned money, the guy did his time. There is zero chance of recidivism and as much as we may hate to see it, it DOES matter what comparable sentences for crimes like this are.
Low key big hog
|How much restitution did he have to pay? Is he going home to a dump or are pictures going to surface of him drinking champagne in the lap of luxury?
The Ayatollah Of Rock And Rolla
How much restitution did he have to pay? Is he going home to a dump or are pictures going to surface of him drinking champagne in the lap of luxury?
Same as I want to know.
Big Garea Fan wrote:As a former MCI WorldCom employee, f@#k you Bernie Ebbers!While I am certainly sorry you lost a lot of your hard earned money, the guy did his time. There is zero chance of recidivism and as much as we may hate to see it, it DOES matter what comparable sentences for crimes like this are.
My thoughts exactly. 13 years for a white collar crime only to be released because you’re about to keel over isn’t exactly being soft on crime. The guy poses no threat to anyone and now has to pay for his own care instead of taxpayers doing it. The annual cost of medical care to a huge and aging prison population is obscene. It costs a fortune to keep anyone locked up, but once they hit 60 those costs go up exponentially and you and I are paying. Many, many more elderly and dying prisoners need to be released.
Last edited on Sun Dec 22nd, 2019 11:49 pm by srossi
Big Garea Fan
|Gee, he really did only have a couple months left to live...Ebbers passed away on Sunday at age 78.
(Reuters) - Bernard Ebbers, the former WorldCom Inc chief executive convicted in one of the largest U.S. accounting scandals, died on Sunday, his family said in a statement.
Ebbers, 78, a one-time milkman became known as an exacting, cost-obsessed boss, was released from prison in December because of his deteriorating health.
He had served about 13-1/4 years of a 25-year prison term for orchestrating an $11 billion fraud that led to his now-defunct telecommunications company's 2002 bankruptcy, at the time the largest Chapter 11 case in U.S. history.
In a court filing in September, Ebbers' lawyers said their client was legally blind, suffered from a heart ailment and anemia, had lost 40 lb (18 kg) in a little over a year, and had become incapable of walking regularly for exercise.
"I know many of the victims of WorldCom opposed Dad's release. Many also wrote in support of release", his son, Joy Ebbers Bourne said in the statement.
"My family and I continue to pray for everyone affected by the fall of WorldCom."
WorldCom had filed for bankruptcy in July 2002. It emerged from Chapter 11 in April 2004 as MCI Inc, which was later acquired by Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N>.
(Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Last edited on Tue Feb 4th, 2020 04:20 am by Big Garea Fan