WorldCom Inc.’s former controller, David Myers, pleaded guilty on Friday to a Mississippi state charge relating to his role in the more than $7 billion accounting fraud at the telephone giant.
Myers, 45 of Madison, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud in Hinds County Circuit Court, said Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore. The state charge carries a possible maximum prison term of five years and a $5,000 fine.
WorldCom, the No. 2 long-distance carrier in the United States, filed the world’s biggest bankruptcy case in July as the company buckled under $40 billion in debt and huge accounting misstatements.
In September, Myers pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to participating in the accounting scheme, saying he was instructed by senior management to falsify WorldCom’s books. Myers, who is cooperating with authorities, pleaded guilty to false filing of documents with securities regulators, conspiracy to commit fraud and securities fraud.
The federal charges carry a possible maximum 20-year prison term; however he is likely to receive a far lighter sentence because of his cooperation. His lawyer said he does not expect that the Mississippi charge will result in additional sanctions.
Moore said his office is working with the Manhattan U.S. attorneys office in the investigation of the massive accounting fraud at the Clinton, Mississippi-based company.
Moore would not comment on whether his office or federal authorities plan to bring charges against WorldCom’s former chief executive Bernard Ebbers.
“We hope to get everybody in upper management who was involved in this,” he said. “We’re edging up the line. We’ll see where it takes us.”
Myers reported to WorldCom’s former chief financial officer, Scott Sullivan. Sullivan has been indicted in Manhattan federal court on fraud and conspiracy charges and is fighting the allegations.
He is accused of conspiring with others to begin the illegal scheme in October, 2000, aimed at hiding expenses and thus inflating WorldCom earnings to meet Wall Street expectations. The indictment alleges the scheme lasted through this June.
Three other former WorldCom executives pleaded guilty this week in Manhattan federal court and are cooperating with authorities. The most senior of the three, Buford Yates, WorldCom’s former director of general accounting, pleaded guilty on Monday and said he was ordered falsify records at his supervisors’ behest. His lawyer said that when Yates objected to making the adjustments, he was told the changes were approved at the highest levels of WorldCom management.
Two of Yates subordinates pleaded guilty on Thursday.