Monday, February 21, 2005
The importance of Scott Sullivan to the government's case is clear as the prosecutors told the court that they expect to end their case-in-chief on either Tuesday or Wednesday and will not be calling any more witnesses from the company. Sullivan was the principal witness used to establish Bernie Ebbers' involvement in the fraud, and the cross-examination included repeated references to Sullivan's lies and misstatements, including a discussion about whether what he said in a conference call constituted "B.S." It did not, however, include any discussion of marital infidelity -- an issue that was probably used by the defense more as a red herring than anything else. U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones refused the government's request to call a former WorldCom employee who lost almost their entire retirement savings when the company collapsed, calling the testimony repetitive -- an attempt to end the case on an emotional note that had little to do with the charges against Ebbers except in the most general sense. An AP story here discusses the conclusion of the cross-examination of Sullivan.
The interesting question will be whether the defense even puts on any witnesses, and if it does, whether they will only be character witnesses to discuss Ebbers' general niceness and disinterestedness in things related to accounting. I still think it will be a surprise if Ebbers testifies because the case hinges more on Sullivan's credibility, and Ebbers could do more harm than good if he testifies. We'll know by the end of the week. (ph)