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Verdict Stirs Up Mix of Emotion For Employees

"People are pleased here," said Tight, who joined WorldCom in 1999. "But this wasn't any great surprise. And to see somebody else suffer doesn't bring back any of our retirement plans or help the people who have been laid off or change the impact this has had on our business. He will pay for what he has done, but this is a sad, sad episode in our history."

Tight said she lost $50,000 to $100,000 when the value of her WorldCom stock plummeted. "Even though justice has been served, this whole situation just brings up bad memories," she said.

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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Across the country, at an MCI network center in Menlo Park, Calif., 30 miles south of San Francisco, Stephen Vivien said the $11 billion scandal played an important role in changing the way U.S. companies do business.

"Through Enron and WorldCom, Congress learned that they needed to pass Sarbanes-Oxley [a 2002 law that set stricter accounting standards] and the president learned that he had to sign it into law," said Vivien, who came to WorldCom in 1983 and worked at the company's facilities in Arlington, McLean and the District before heading to California. "But they still haven't learned that employees need better laws protecting pensions and their 401(k)s."

Vivien was a lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that sought to recover lost retirement funds from the telecommunications company, Ebbers and insurers. A settlement valued at about $50 million was reached last fall.

"I'm sad for him in a way," Vivien said of Ebbers. "I'm a human being and anybody going to jail for however long he's going to go, there's not that much vengeance that a person can feel toward him. I look at it as restitution, in a way. He's paying a debt to society. But the people that lost the money, especially the employees, are not going to be made whole by this, by any stretch."

At her home in Reston yesterday, former WorldCom employee Pam Goodman vowed not to watch TV coverage of the Ebbers conviction. "My husband and I gave up TV for Lent," she said. Instead, she perused Yahoo.com, where the lead story was headlined "WorldCom's Ebbers Guilty in $11B Fraud Case."

"In a way, I felt really sorry for him -- I mean, that greed could just get a hold of him so badly and impact so many people," Goodman said. "But this makes me a little angry, too, because WorldCom was a great company and a great place to work. But it was like Bernie was a cancer that kind of ate it up and destroyed it."

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