updated 6/28/2005 11:40:42 AM ET 2005-06-28T15:40:42

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to impose what amounts to a life sentence for former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, convicted earlier this year in the company's $11 billion accounting fraud.

In sentencing papers filed with a federal judge, the government noted that federal probation officers have already recommended a life sentence for Ebbers based on sentencing guidelines.

The government told Judge Barbara Jones she should impose a sentence "consistent" with those guidelines and also follow a recent case in which Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas received what amounted to a life sentence.

"The enormity of the crimes that Ebbers committed cannot be overstated: The fraud at WorldCom was the largest securities fraud in history," prosecutors wrote. "Along with Enron, the name WorldCom has become synonymous with fraud."

Ebbers, 63, is scheduled to be sentenced July 13 in Manhattan federal court. Five other former WorldCom executives who pleaded guilty in the fraud are also awaiting sentencing this summer.

Rigas, 80, who is in poor health, was sentenced last week to 15 years in prison. The judge in that case said he could return home if he served at least two years and was terminally ill.

Ebbers has argued he should receive a lighter sentence in part because of his poor health, including a history of serious heart problems.

The government rejected that argument in its sentencing papers, saying the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was capable of caring for the former chief executive. It also said the judge should not consider Ebbers' good works and public service.

WorldCom collapsed into bankruptcy in 2002 after Ebbers resigned and the fraud came to light. It has since emerged from bankruptcy and operates now under the name MCI.

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