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Ebbers Must Serve Time in Medium-Security Prison

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The federal Bureau of Prisons has ordered former WorldCom Inc. chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers to serve his 25-year prison term at a medium-security facility in Oakdale, La., rather than a less tightly guarded location closer to his home.

Federal officials made the decision even after U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones recommended that Ebbers, 63, be sent to a minimum-security prison in Yazoo City, Miss., near his family and friends. The Louisiana prison is 200 miles from Ebbers's hometown, defense lawyers said.

"It is virtually unprecedented for a first time, white collar offender like Mr. Ebbers to be required to serve his sentence in a medium security facility," lawyers Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig wrote in court papers filed Monday.

Defense lawyers have asked the judge to allow Ebbers to remain free pending the results of an appeal of his fraud, conspiracy and false statements conviction. WorldCom, now known as MCI Inc. of Ashburn, emerged from bankruptcy protection after a record $11 billion accounting fraud.

Federal prosecutors in New York are opposing Ebbers's request to remain free on bail. The judge has not offered guidance on when she may rule on the issue. Ebbers must report to prison by an Oct. 12 deadline.

-- Carrie Johnson

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