An Oklahoma judge ordered a Dec. 1 preliminary hearing for Bernard J. Ebbers, the former chief executive of telephone company WorldCom Inc., on state charges of securities violations, court officials said Tuesday.
The December date means Ebbers will appear in a state court in the $11-billion WorldCom accounting scandal before federal prosecutors file charges against him in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Ebbers' attorney, Reid Weingarten, pressed for an early hearing date because, he said, Oklahoma prosecutors lack the evidence to try Ebbers. At the preliminary hearing, prosecutors must show a judge why a trial should go forward.
"We believe the state attorney general should be prepared to show cause right now," Weingarten told the court last week.
WorldCom and five former executives in addition to Ebbers have been charged with violating Oklahoma securities law. Among those charged is former Chief Financial Officer Scott D. Sullivan, who faces a federal trial in New York in February.
Ebbers, who is free on $50,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty in the Oklahoma case. State pension funds lost $64 million in WorldCom's collapse.