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December 28, 2005

Plea deal for Enron CAO Causey

As detailed in stories from the Washington Post and the Houston Chronicle, Enron's ex-Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday as part of a plea deal, three weeks before he was to face trial on fraud charges along with Enron's former top two officials, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.  The blogosphere already includes great commentary on this development from TalkLeft and Houston's Clear Thinkers.

Of course, this news is fundamentally a sentencing story.  In the wake of the long sentences given to the likes of Bernie Ebbers and the Rigases and other fraud offenders after losing at trial, Causey had to think a loss at trial could likely result in a sentence of 20+ years.  By copping a plea, Causey now can assess his likely sentence in years, rather than decades. 

The basic terms and sentencing provisions of Causey's plea deal, which are not yet public, should be quite interesting.  And what this might mean for the scheduled January 17 trial of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Ellen Podgor over at White Collar Crime Prof Blog has this interesting post inquiring: "The Causey Plea - Why So Late?"

ADDITIONAL UPDATE:  This NY Times report on Causey's plea today indicates that he "will face a sentence of seven years that could be reduced by a maximum up to two years depending on his cooperation at trial. He also agreed to pay a $1.25 million fine."  Ellen Podgor adds more comments on the deal here.  And now I see TalkLeft has some great additional coverage here.

December 28, 2005 at 02:09 AM | Permalink

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Comments

What it means is obvious: The special prosecution team is trying to assemble more cooperating witnesses in order to spread the knowledge up the food chain in order to obtain a conviction. It is classic federal strategy. The specter of a large sentence will scare many into analzying their wrong doing and decide to plead, cooperate, and testify against the targets. It is not good news whenever there is a plea of a co-defendant on the eve of trial.

Posted by: Ronald Richards | Dec 28, 2005 12:23:41 PM

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