After Bernie, Who's Next?

With the conviction of WorldCom's former CEO, corporate fraudsters are finally facing hard time

Bernie Ebbers left no paper trail. He didn't like e-mail, preferring to give vague orders to subordinates, like telling his chief financial officer, Scott Sullivan, to "hit the numbers." According to Ebbers' trial lawyer, Reid Weingarten, there was no smoking gun, no hard evidence to implicate the former chief of WorldCom--a college dropout, Sunday-school teacher and small-town basketball coach--as the orchestrator of the largest accounting fraud in U.S. history. "You thought you could trust him," says Alex Bryant, an ex--WorldCom sales manager in Springfield, Mo. Soon after WorldCom bought MCI, Bryant recalls, Ebbers addressed a group of employees and urged them...

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