Disgraced former telecom executive Bernie Ebbers — who helped carry out one of history’s biggest accounting frauds — will get out of prison early because his health is failing.
Manhattan federal Judge Valerie Caproni granted the former WorldCom CEO’s request for an early release from his 25-year prison sentence Wednesday as he grapples with dementia, blindness and other health problems, according to news reports.
Ebbers, 78, has been behind bars for more than 13 years following his 2005 conviction on securities fraud and other charges for his role in the $11 billion WorldCom accounting fraud. The company plunged into bankruptcy after Ebbers and others hid its poor financial results from investors, according to prosecutors.
Ebbers’ physical and mental health has deteriorated greatly since he started his prison term in 2006, his lawyers have said in court filings. One of his daughters has described him as “a mere skeleton,” and he was recently moved from his Texas federal prison to a hospital to be treated for urinary sepsis, records show.
Prosecutors argued against Ebbers’ early release “given the massive nature and effect” of his crimes. They have said he can get the medical care he needs in prison and that his age was considered when he was sentenced.
But Barbara Jones, the former federal judge who handed down the sentence, expressed support for his release, saying in a letter that he had been “punished enough” given his health problems.