His death was confirmed by his attorney in a statement to CNN affiliate WAPT in Jackson, Mississippi. Ebbers had been granted an early release from prison due to poor health in January after serving just over 13 years of a 25-year sentence. He was 78 years old.
Ebbers was found guilty in 2005 of conspiracy, securities fraud and filing false statements in the case that brought down what was then the nation’s No. 2 long-distance provider. The company eventually went bankrupt, leading to substantial losses for shareholders. Thousands of WorldCom employees lost their jobs and savings. At the time, the bankruptcy was the largest in US history.
Ebbers insisted during the trial that he had been unaware of the fraud that was taking place at his company, but Scott Sullivan, the company’s chief financial officer, testified against him during his trial.
A federal jury in New York deliberated for eight days before finding him guilty on all counts against him.
Ebbers’ attorney filed for his early release last year, saying that his health had deteriorated substantially, necessitating his transfer to a 24-hour nursing care unit. The filing said his weight had dropped from 200 pounds to 142 pounds in the previous 18 months, that he was having trouble walking. His attorney said Ebbers had fallen and suffered head injuries numerous times.
In the filing, his attorney said it was estimated he had only 18 months to live.