A judge’s rejection of Lea Fastow’s proposed plea bargain sidetracked husband Andrew Fastow’s companion deal and prosecutors’ hope of making a big advance in the two-year criminal investigation into wrongdoing at Enron Corp., reports the Houston Chronicle. Prosecutors and defense attorneys worked into the night to see if deals could be worked out.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner rejected an arrangement to give Lea Fastow, a one-time assistant treasurer at Enron, a five-month prison term. The judge balked at limiting the sentence under the range of up to 16 months in prison allowed under the tax crime in question. The judge will survey jurors today on Lea Fastow’s Feb. 10 trial. The Chronicle says prosecutors had agreed to let Andrew Fastow, Enron’s former chief financial officer, plead guilty for a 10-year prison term. It could proceed even if his wife goes to trial.
“It is not so terribly unusual that this would happen in plea negotiations. It’s often in fits and starts. What’s different here is that his case is so big,” said a lawyer in the case. “If this were a judge refusing a drug case plea nobody would be paying attention.”
Possible charges against Rick Causey, former chief accounting officer for Enron, seemed stalled, but he may still surrender in response to a criminal complaint. Defense attorneys involved in other Enron cases assume prosecutors hope testimony from Andrew Fastow could help them determine if they should file charges against – former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling and former Chairman Ken Lay.