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John Sidgmore, Ex-WorldCom CEO, Dead At 52

John Sidgmore, the Internet pioneer who later helped reveal the massive accounting fraud at WorldCom Inc., died suddenly Thursday. Cause of death was acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. He was 52.

Sidgmore, who had been a vice president at GE's information systems unit, led a start-up called UUNet Technologies Inc. as it became one of the most important pieces of the Internet's backbone. When UUNet was acquired by WorldCom, Sidgmore became a director at WorldCom.

He became WorldCom chief executive after the firm began sinking when the firm's accounting became suspect. In that post, he cooperated with federal investigators as they found $11 billion in accounting fraud. Shortly after the departure of former WorldCom chief executive Bernard Ebbers, Sidgmore apologized for the company's accounting discrepancies and began to battle for the firm's survival. WorldCom is scheduled to emerge from bankruptcy early next year.

In 1999 Sidgmore co-founded eCommerce Industries Inc., a software company. The Washington Post quoted his eCommerce partner, Paula Jagemann, who said Sidgmore was "one of the last great, honest businessmen. I'm sure half of UUNet will show up at the funeral, so park early."

Sidgmore is survived by his wife, Randi, and his son, Michael.