Prosecutors Urge Judge to Reject New Ebbers Trial

The government has urged a federal judge to reject a bid by former WorldCom (search) chief Bernard Ebbers (search) for a new trial as his sentencing nears for his part in the record-breaking $11 billion accounting fraud.

Federal prosecutors told Judge Barbara Jones in papers made public Tuesday that Ebbers' grounds for a new trial "essentially rehash arguments that the court has previously considered and rejected."

Among those defense arguments are that Jones should have ordered immunity to three former WorldCom executives who were reluctant to testify, and who the defense claimed could have helped prove Ebbers' innocence.

Prosecutors said it would be an "extraordinary remedy" for a court to order the government to grant immunity to witnesses, and was not warranted in Ebbers' case.

Lawyers for Ebbers also say they should have been allowed to argue to jurors that the way WorldCom counted its revenue complied with generally accepted accounting practices.

"Nothing about the evidence presented during the trial requires a new trial now," the prosecutors wrote.

Ebbers, 63, was convicted in March of securities fraud, conspiracy and filing seven false reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (search), all part of the fraud that bankrupted WorldCom in 2002.

He faces sentencing June 13. The nine criminal counts carry up to 85 years in prison.

WorldCom has since emerged from bankruptcy and now operates under the name MCI Inc., with headquarters in Virginia.

Besides Ebbers, five other former WorldCom officials who pleaded guilty in the massive fraud are scheduled to be sentenced this summer. All five struck plea deals with the government, and four testified against Ebbers.