Wednesday AM September 27th, 2006

Andy Fastow begins six-year prison sentence for his role in the collapse of Enron...

Andrew Fastow--one of the key figures in Enron's collapse—was sentenced to six years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for his role in the collapse of Enron. The company's former chief financial officer had agreed to serve a maximum ten-year term when he pleaded guilty in 2004. But U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt said he deserved a lighter sentence because Fastow has been publicly persecuted following Enron's collapse and that his family has suffered enough. Fastow's attorney had asked for a lesser sentence, as did Prosecutor John Hueston, who cited Fastow's admission of guilt and importance in the federal government's successful prosecution of Enron founder Ken Lay and the former chief executive, Jeff Skilling. Rabbi Shaul Osadchey from Fastow's synagogue says the judge took many factors into consideration before sentencing.

"I really can't respond to whether it's fair. I think the judge took into consideration the help that he's given. One of the things that we talk about this time of year in the Jewish community as we're focused on the Day of Atonement is how people return to their true selves, to the their higher selves, and how they do that though words and through deeds. So today Mr. Fastow spoke words that reflect his sentiments—his deep feelings—but he's also performed a lot of deeds that corroborate that, and I think the judge put those two together and felt that that warranted a reduced sentence. "

In an emotional statement before sentencing, Fastow told the judge "I know I deserve punishment. I accept it without bitterness.'' The judge also recommended that Fastow be enrolled in a drug treatment program in prison for problems with anxiety medication taken over the past few years. Rabbi Osadchey talked about Fastow's family.

"I think that they were somewhat pleased, of course, that it was not the full sentence. I think they were, naturally, hoping that it would have been less than that. The attorneys had suggested more community service and less prison time. I think that would have probably been an equitable arrangement because he has a lot to offer. He'll be in prison and he really can't do too much for society at large in that institution, but he certainly can do things on the outside. He's very talented, very bright, very committed to community activity."

Attorney Christopher Patti with the University of California, which lost millions with Enron's collapse, had wanted Fastow available for further cooperation in civil cases.

"Well, he is the only insider who's really come forward and cooperated with the plaintiffs in trying to get recovery for their losses, and that's a very important thing."

But Fastow was taken immediately into custody after the judge rejected his request to turn himself in at a later date. Enron crumbled into bankruptcy proceedings in December 2001 after years of accounting tricks could no longer hide billions in debt or make failing ventures appear profitable. Fastow was originally indicted on 98 counts, including fraud, insider trading and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy. He also surrendered nearly $30 million in cash and property.

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