Trial of Ex-WorldCom CEO Ebbers Delayed Until January

A federal judge Tuesday delayed the trial of former WorldCom (search) Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers (search) by two months, but denied a bid by the one-time executive to have fraud charges against him dropped.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones set a new trial date of January 17, but said she would not grant any more delays in a case that was supposed to begin in early November.

Lawyers for Ebbers sought the delay, saying they needed more time to prepare a defense for their client, who is charged with lying to securities regulators and committing fraud in connection with the telecommunications company's $11 billion accounting scandal.

Jones, who also denied a defense motion to have some or all of the charges dropped, said Ebbers' lawyers made a "mistake" by initially agreeing to the November schedule, but that should not undercut Ebbers "ability to prepare for the case."

Ebbers faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy. The counts of securities fraud and making false statements in public filings each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. WorldCom, now known as MCI (search), is based in Virginia.