NEW YORK – A jury of 10 women and six men was selected Tuesday in the fraud trial of former WorldCom Inc. (search) Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers (search), accused of orchestrating an $11 billion accounting scandal.
The 16-member pool will eventually be separated into 12 regular jurors and four alternates. The pool is comprised of 10 women and six men, including two teachers, a nurse, a housewife and three bank workers, among others.
The first witness in the case is due to testify on Wednesday for the government, which has charged Ebbers with securities fraud, conspiracy and lying to regulators.
In its case, the government will allege that Ebbers knew the company he built into a telecommunications power would not be able to meet financial targets it set during the technology boom in the late 1990s.
So, the government says, Ebbers orchestrated a fraud, ordering other executives to use questionable accounting to paint a rosier picture of the company's finances.
They charge that he lied to federal securities regulators in the meantime, while cheating investors by misleading them about the health of the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2002. It emerged last year using the name MCI (search) .
Ebbers faces a maximum prison sentence of 85 years if convicted.
The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.