Former WorldCom founder and CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison for his role in the massive accounting fraud that brought down the telecom giant, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Ebbers, 63, was found guilty in March on charges he ordered the telecom’s finances inflated to cover massive losses that led to an $11 billion accounting fraud, which bankrupted the company in 2002.
Judge Barbara S. Jones handed down the sentence in federal district court in Manhattan, citing her decision took into account the seriousness of the charges and the effect the massive fraud had on many, according to the report.
”I find that a sentence of anything less would not reflect the seriousness of this crime,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones said.
The former WorldCom boss was charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and seven counts of lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He did face 85 years in prison, but defense attorneys argued for leniency citing his numerous charitable works and poor health. Attorneys for Ebbers also presented the judge with over 100 letters of character support.
Towards the end of his reign at WorldCom, Ebbers instructed former CFO Scott Sullivan to adjust the Mississippi-based company’s accounting numbers over a two-year period in order to keep receiving positive reports from Wall Street analysts.
Five other WorldCom executives and accountants, including Sullivan, face sentencing later this summer.
This article was first published on internetnews.com.