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WorldCom's Sullivan Asks for Milder Sentencing Rules

August 13, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Former WorldCom Inc. Chief Financial Officer Scott D. Sullivan, who is accused of leading a multibillion-dollar accounting fraud, says he should get no more than 12 1/2 years in prison if convicted, about half of what's called for under U.S. guidelines.

In a crackdown on corporate fraud, Congress in 2001 adjusted the guidelines to provide stiffer sentences for white-collar criminals who plead guilty or are convicted. As a result, Sullivan says in court papers filed in New York, he might receive as much as 24 1/2 years in prison if he is found guilty.

Sullivan, 41, wants a judge to rule that the guidelines in effect in 2000 -- when most of his alleged crimes occurred -- should determine his sentence. Should he prevail, he would face a maximum sentence of 10 to 12 1/2 years.

Sullivan, of Boca Raton, Fla., is accused of orchestrating the multibillion-dollar fraud that drove the second- largest U.S. long-distance telephone company into bankruptcy proceedings.

He also is charged with defrauding J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and other banks of $4.25 billion through improper accounting that hid WorldCom's real expenses. He is free on a $10-million bond.

Prosecutors also have been trying to develop evidence that former Chief Executive Bernard J. Ebbers was aware that subordinates at WorldCom were engaging in securities fraud. He hasn't been charged with a crime.

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