Oklahoma City judge sets MCI's Scott Sullivan hearing for late January

Thursday, November 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma judge, rejecting requests of attorneys for both sides, scheduled a late January preliminary hearing Thursday for Scott Sullivan, former WorldCom chief financial officer.

Sullivan's preliminary hearing on charges of violating Oklahoma securities laws is set for Jan. 26-28, the week before he is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in New York.

Sullivan and Bernie Ebbers, former chief operating officer, are among six former employees of the telecommunications giant now known as MCI to be charged in Oklahoma. The company also has been charged.

Sullivan and Ebbers have been released on $50,000 bail each after pleading innocent to 15 felony charges.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the charges grew out of a scheme to defraud Oklahoma investors as part of an $11 billion accounting scandal.

Lenita Hendricksen, Oklahoma attorney for Sullivan, asked Oklahoma County Judge James H. Paddleford to scheduled her client's preliminary hearing for April to give time for the New York trial to be concluded.

Her request was supported by Thomas Bates, assistant attorney general.

Paddleford, however, refused to go along, saying he did not want to allow pending litigation ``in another jurisdiction to influence this case.''

He said his decision, however, did not preclude attorneys from filing a joint motion later for a continuance.

Paddleford had previously refused prosecution requests to delay the preliminary hearings for Ebbers, set for Dec. 1, or for MCI, scheduled for March 1.

Edmondson has filed a motion seeking to continue Ebbers' hearing until March 22 and Paddleford has scheduled a hearing on that motion for next week.

In requesting the delays, Edmondson's office has cited a need to coordinate their cases with the federal trial of Sullivan.

Edmondson had agreed with a request from U.S. Attorney James B. Comey of the Southern District of New York to delay court appearances in Oklahoma for four ex-WorldCom employees until they testify in Oklahoma in the cases against Ebbers and Sullivan. They are Buford Yates, David Myers, Betty Vinson and Troy Normand.

Paddleford's rulings, however, mean they could be required to testify in the Oklahoma cases against Ebbers and Sullivan before testifying in New York.

The charges filed by Edmondson were the first criminal charges brought in any jurisdiction against Ebbers and the company.