Preliminary hearing delayed for former WorldCom CFO

Tuesday, December 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma judge on Tuesday delayed the preliminary hearing for former WorldCom executive Scott Sullivan, whose trial on federal charges begins days after the hearing's original date.

Special District Judge James H. Paddleford rescheduled the preliminary hearing for Sullivan, the bankrupt telecom's former chief financial officer, for May 17.

Sullivan was to appear in Oklahoma County District Court Jan. 26. His trial on 11 federal charges of conspiracy and fraud is scheduled to begin Feb. 2 in the Southern District of New York.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson Oklahoma filed 15 felony charges in August against the company, former chief executive Bernard Ebbers, Sullivan and four others.

Sullivan has pleaded innocent to the state charges, which stemmed from the $11 billion accounting scandal at the telecommunications company now known as MCI.

His attorneys had argued that having a preliminary hearing on the state charges just days before his federal trial would be ``fundamentally unfair and extremely prejudicial.'' Edmondson did not oppose the motion.

Edmondson dropped the charges against Ebbers on Nov. 20 after he could not persuade Paddleford to delay a Dec. 1 preliminary hearing. Edmondson will refile the charges.

The other four executives, who have not yet made initial appearances in Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to federal charges and are cooperating with prosecutors in New York.