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Verdict Stirs Up Mix of Emotion For Employees

By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 16, 2005; Page A13

Around lunchtime yesterday, Michael Lawson, a salesman from Internet firm Savvis Communications Corp. in Herndon, received an instant message on his computer from a former colleague at WorldCom Inc., now known as MCI Inc.

It was straight and to the point: GUILTY.

Stephen Vivien, shown in 2001, said he looks at the verdict against his former boss as "restitution." (Randi Lynn Beach For The Washington Post)

_____Live Discussion_____
Transcript: The Washington Post's Brooke A. Masters was online to discuss the Ebbers case.
Transcript: Roma Theus, vice chairman of the Corporate Integrity and White Collar Crime Committee at the Defense Research Institute
Graphic: A Titan's Rise and Fall
Photo Gallery: Ebbers Through the Years
Video: The Washington Post's Brooke Masters discusses the scene inside the courtroom.
_____In Today's Post_____
WorldCom's Ebbers Convicted (The Washington Post, Mar 16, 2005)
Verdict Weakens Ignorance Defense (The Washington Post, Mar 16, 2005)
Ebbers, One in a Long Line of Egos (The Washington Post, Mar 16, 2005)
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Lawson, who worked in sales for WorldCom from 1999 to 2002, said he did not need to know any more.

"Bernie Ebbers got what he deserved," Lawson said of the former WorldCom chief executive.

In a crowded New York courtroom yesterday, Ebbers, 63, was convicted of orchestrating a fraud that ultimately destroyed WorldCom, thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in employee retirement savings plans that had been funded with company stock. The judge set sentencing for June 13. Ebbers faces a maximum of 85 years in a federal prison.

"Me, I lost $20,000 to $30,000 in my 401(k)" when WorldCom's stock became worthless, Lawson said. "But a lot of other people lost considerably more."

Yet as they pondered the verdict, former WorldCom employees -- some now at MCI -- said the conviction of their former boss unearthed a range of emotions.

"He deserved it. But at the same time I feel bad," Lawson said. "I hate to see that happen to anyone."

"June 13 will be the big day. It's marked on my calendar," said Andy Sharp, who with his wife, Kristen Stahl, estimates they lost up to $250,000 as a result of the scandal. "I hope he's sentenced to 85 years."

At MCI headquarters in Ashburn, Leanne Tight, who works in the Internet side of the company's operation, said she learned of the verdict while watching CNN.

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