Ebbers Goes to Prison

The 65-year old former Worldcom CEO began serving what is likely to amount to a life sentence on Tuesday.

Former WorldCom Corp. chief Bernard Ebbers reports to a Federal prison Tuesday to begin serving a 25-year prison sentence for his role in the telecom company’s $11 billion accounting fraud. He is 65 years old.

According to the AP, Ebbers must serve at least 21 years and four months of his sentence before he can become eligible for parole.

The AP reported seeing Ebbers leave his house in Ridgeland, a suburb of Jackson, Miss., shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday. The wire service also reported that he stopped his white sedan to hug neighbors and shake hands before proceeding.

But there won’t be a media circus or TV footage of him arriving at prison. The AP points out that federal prison officials would not confirm to reporters where Ebbers will serve his sentence. Mike Truman, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman, told the AP the location where Ebbers will be imprisoned would remain secret until Ebbers is admitted. He also would not say where or when Ebbers would surrender to officials.

Reuters notes that at a sentencing hearing in 2005, U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones in Manhattan recommended that Ebbers be sent to a minimum-security facility in Yazoo City, Miss. The AP points out that the two closest prisons to his home are the Yazoo City Federal Correctional Facility in Mississippi or the Oakdale Correctional Complex in Louisiana.

An AP reporter tried to speak with Ebbers on Monday at what the wire service described as an “upscale, brick and stucco home in a gated community” in Ridgeland.

According to the report, Ebbers refused to answer questions and told the reporter to leave his property after answering the door wearing a light blue golf shirt and blue jeans. “You’re not even supposed to be on this property,” said Ebbers, who then reportedly walked outside, with a cigar in his mouth, to watch the reporter leave.

The AP points out that federal prisoners are usually placed at a facility within 500 miles of their homes. However, the Bureau of Prison’s Truman told the wire service that beside proximity, other factors considered include “violence, escape attempts, how many years the individual got, and also the bottom line is how many beds are available.”

Truman said an announcement would be made Tuesday after Ebbers is processed.

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