Bernie Ebbers, the milkman-turned-telecom tycoon is likely to take a stand today in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He is on trial on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission related to WorldCom, now known as MCI Inc. Wall Street Journal says that “If convicted on all nine counts he faces up to 85 years in jail, although the sentence could be much less under federal sentencing guidelines. ” The New York Times questions the wisdom of putting Bernie in front of the jurors.
Still, putting Mr. Ebbers on the stand could backfire. For now, the defense has been able to argue that Mr. Ebbers had a number of plausible reasons for not knowing about the fraud, both by introducing direct testimony and through suggestion. The defense has tried to portray Mr. Ebbers as a chief executive who was more of a strategist than an accountant, and someone who left financial details to Mr. Sullivan.
Still, it will be an interesting day in the court and I will be watching the developments quite closely.