Risk & Compliance

Prosecutors: Go Light on Lea Fastow

The wife of former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow didn't spur the collapse of the energy giant, they argue.
Stephen TaubApril 2, 2004

Prosecutors urged a judge not to sentence Lea Fastow for more time than she agreed to under a plea bargain deal, since her conduct did not play a role in Enron’s collapse, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Fastow, the wife of former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, is slated to be sentenced next week for filing a false tax report. She pleaded guilty to failing to report $47,800 in income on her 2000 personal taxes, part of more than $204,000 that was undeclared over four years.

Under her plea arrangement, she would receive a 10-month sentence—five months in prison and five months under house arrest. When she pleaded guilty, however, U.S. District Judge David Hittner indicated that he isn’t required to adhere to the exact terms of the deal.

But Enron Task Force prosecutors reportedly told the judge earlier this week that since Lea Fastow “is not accountable for the demise of Enron or shareholder losses, the government believes that enhanced punishment on that basis would clearly be in violation of American principles of individual justice.”

Prosecutor Linda Lacewell told the court in January that Lea Fastow tried to conceal improper income from Enron side deals as gifts of less than $10,000, which need not be reported, according to the newspaper.

The prosecutors pointed out in a memo to the judge that the kind of side deal that the Fastows illegally invested in was the kind of self-dealing that can happen at any company but was not part of the larger scheme of earnings manipulations that caused the collapse of Enron’s stock, the paper added.

The 10-month sentence is close to the average sentencing for all tax violations, prosecutors reportedly said, citing the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2001 fiscal year report.

In other Enron-related matters, a federal judge freed up less than $225,000 in securities from an order freezing more than $4 million in assets in the name of Richard Causey, Enron’s former top accountant who in January pleaded not guilty to six counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

The judge also warned him not to use any of that money on country club fees, according to the Associated Press.

Further, lawyers for former Enron chief executive officer Jeff Skilling earlier this week filed a notice appealing a judge’s order to freeze more than $55 million in cash and property.

Skilling’s lawyers received $23 million before the judge first signed the freeze order on Feb. 19, according to the AP.