Bernard Ebbers – 1941–
Bernard “Bernie” Ebbers was born in Canada to the family of a traveling salesman. He started in business as the operator of motels in Mississippi and in 1983 invested with others in the newly formed Long Distance Discount Services, Inc (LDDS). Named CEO in 1985, he presided over the acquisition of more than 60 other independent telecommunications firms to create WorldCom in 1995. The explosive expansion of WorldCom attracted many investors, but in 2005 Ebbers was convicted of fraud and conspiracy for spectacularly overstating the financially strapped company’s earnings—at a cost to investors of $180 billion. Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years.