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Ebbers Begins Prison Sentence

September 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

OAKDALE, La. — Former WorldCom Inc. Chief Executive Bernard J. Ebbers drove through the gates of a federal prison Tuesday to begin a 25-year sentence for his role in the $11-billion accounting fraud that toppled the company he built from a tiny telecommunications firm to an industry giant.

Behind the wheel of a Mercedes he had driven from Mississippi, Ebbers pulled the bill of his cap down, shielding his face from reporters and photographers, as he drove into the prison.

Ebbers left his upscale, brick-and-stucco home in a gated community in the Jackson suburb of Ridgeland about 9 a.m. Tuesday. He arrived shortly after 2 p.m. at Oakdale.

Ebbers, a former high school basketball coach, was sentenced in July of last year after he was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in the massive fraud that drove Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom into bankruptcy protection in 2002.

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ebbers' conviction and sentence last month. His attorney has said they will continue to appeal.

Investigators uncovered $11 billion in fraud at WorldCom, much of it because accountants were classifying regular expenses as long-term capital expenditures. The company reemerged under the name MCI. Verizon later bought MCI.

The Oakdale Correctional Complex consists of two facilities: a low-security prison and a prison camp with minimum-security inmates. It was not known which facility would house Ebbers.

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