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Ebbers: Bumpkin or Bully?

After weeks of bombarding jurors with financial data, documents, and reports, the prosecution went for the human angle as they launched their summation in the fraud trial of ex-WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers today.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Johnson, summarizing the governments case against Ebbers, portrayed Ebbers as a man with an intimidating physical stature and fiery temper, who was pressed to desperate measures to resolve his own personal financial missteps.

The six-foot-plus former exec, who towered over most people in the courtroom, was described as “a forceful and dominating personality” who used his temper to intimidate employees.

”You can see how big Mr. Ebbers is,” Johnson told the court. This is in stark contrast to the genial portrait painted by defense attorney Reid Weingarten on Monday as former basketball coach Ebbers took the stand (see Ebbers: Of Motels & Men).

The company’s former CFO Scott Sullivan has already pleaded guilty in the case, and prosecutors, aided by Sullivan’s testimony, have spent the last few days attempting to prove to jurors that Ebbers was the prime mover behind the fraud.

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