Bernard J. Ebbers, who built a modest Mississippi phone company into a telecommunications giant, WorldCom, but later went to jail after its collapse in one of the nation’s largest corporate scandals, died on Sunday at his home in Brookhaven, Miss. He was 78. His health had sharply deteriorated in recent months, his family said in a statement provided by his lawyer, Graham P. Carner, who confirmed the death. One of his daughters, Joy Ebbers Bourne, said in a court filing in October that Mr. Ebbers was “now experiencing full-blown dementia.” In March 2005, Bernie Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom, was found guilty on nine counts of securities fraud and conspiracy involving an accounting scheme to bolster the company's apparent profitability. According to reports, the fraud began in 2000 and was revealed in 2002 in shareholder lawsuits. The fraud, estimated to be $11 billion, ultimately lead the company to file for bankruptcy in July 2002. Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $45 million in restitution in July 2005. Canadian born Ebbers is currently serving his sentence in the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution in Louisiana. Mr. Ebbers, who in 2005 was sentenced to 25 years in prison, was freed from a federal prison in Texas in December, having been granted compassionate release by a federal judge to spend his final months at home. He attended boarding school on a Navajo reservation after his family moved to California. He ended up receiving a basketball scholarship — he was 6-foot-4 tall — to Mississippi College, a private Baptist institution in Clinton, Miss. He graduated in 1967 with a degree in physical education. Mr. Ebbers married Linda Pigott in 1968, and they divorced in 1997. He and his second wife, Kristie Ebbers, who were married in 1999, divorced in 2008. He is survived by four daughters, Ave Easley, Treasure Ebbers Beeson, Joy Ebbers Bourne and Faith Ebbers Gates; three brothers, John, James and Stephen; a sister, Marion Olthuis; 12 grandchildren; and one great-grandson.