Former WorldCom chief executive Bernard Ebbers is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the collapse of WorldCom, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
updated 10/19/2004 9:55:15 AM ET 2004-10-19T13:55:15

A federal judge Tuesday delayed the trial of former WorldCom Inc. chief Bernard Ebbers until Jan. 17 instead of early next month.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones also denied Ebbers' motion to move the trial from New York to Mississippi.

The trial had been set to start Nov. 9.

Ebbers is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the collapse of WorldCom, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year and now operates under the name MCI Inc.

Ebbers' lawyer, Reid Weingarten, had asked repeatedly to have the trial delayed, saying he did not have adequate time to prepare a defense.

Weingarten was busy well into April defending former Tyco International Ltd. counsel Mark Belnick.

Jones said it was a "mistake" for Ebbers' lawyers to agree to the trial delay in the first place, but said she was putting his interests first in delaying the trial.

Additionally, the judge declined Ebbers' motion to throw out some charges in the case.

Ebbers is accused of orchestrating an $11 billion accounting fraud at WorldCom, which collapsed in 2002.

The star witness against him is expected to be Scott Sullivan, WorldCom's former finance chief, who has pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating with prosecutors.

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