The sentence for the former head of WorldCom was handed down Wednesday by Judge Barbara Jones in Manhattan federal court, three years after WorldCom collapsed in an $11 billion accounting fraud, wiping out billions of investor dollars.
Ebbers wept in court when the judge sentenced him. His wife, Kristie, cried quietly. Later, the two embraced as the courtroom emptied. The 63-year-old will go to prison in October and not be eligible for release until he's 85. The judge recommended that Ebbers serve his time in the federal prison in Yazoo City.
Defense lawyer Reid Weingarten had asked for leniency, mentioning Ebbers' heart condition and his charitable works. The judge said she did not believe Ebbers' heart condition was serious enough to warrant a lesser sentence.
Ebbers was convicted in March 2005 of fraud, conspiracy and other charges in the scandal at WorldCom, which is now known as MCI, Incorporated.
Some Mississippians who lost money in the collapse say they're satisfied with the 25-year sentence handed to Ebbers. Others say the sentence is too harsh.
John Mosley, a Clinton automotive repair shop owner who lost $20,000 on WorldCom stock, says he can't disagree with the judge's sentence. But Harold Gary of Brookhaven, who has known Ebbers more than 30 years, says the sentence is too harsh.
Gary said he lost "millions" in WorldCom stock but he's not bitter because he believes Ebbers is a good man who has helped people with his donations.