December 4, 2008
A decade after the meltdown of the telecommunications stock market bubble, Bernie Ebbers, sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the WorldCom stock fraud, has asked President George W. Bush for a presidential pardon, according to a report Thursday.
Ebbers has served several months of a 25-year sentence at a Louisiana federal prison. The Justice Department confirmed to The Associated Press that Ebbers was seeking a presidential pardon. In 2004, Ebbers was charged with conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements for his participation in the $11 billion accounting scheme that led to the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. Ebbers pleaded not guilty. Before he leaves office on Jan. 20, President Bush has the power to grant pardons and erase convictions as stated in the U.S. Constitution. Bush has granted clemency to only a handful of prominent and not-so-prominent criminals so far. Meanwhile, Joseph Nacchio, convicted earlier of selling millions in Qwest stock on insider knowledge, is awaiting new rulings in his ongoing case. Originally found guilty in a jury trial in April 2007, the former Qwest CEO was given a new chance when an Appeals Court ordered a new trial after trial judge Edward Nottingham was criticized by an appellate court for declining to permit a witness to testify on Nacchio's behalf. In yet another case, Alberto Vilar, whose Amerindo Investment Advisors invested in high-flying tech stocks that subsequently crashed, is planning to appeal his recent conviction on fraud charges. Vilar gained additional notoriety, because his lifestyle involved donations to cultural institutions that he wasn't able to pay. His attorney has said he plans to appeal the jury's conviction in November.
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