Tuesday PM September 26th, 2006

Andy Fastow sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the collapse of Enron...

Andrew Fastow--one of the key figures in Enron's collapse—has been sentenced to six years in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Enron's former chief financial officer had agreed to serve a maximum ten-year term when he pleaded guilty in 2004. But the judge said he deserved a lighter sentence because Fastow has been publicly persecuted following Enron's collapse and that his family has suffered enough. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt said "prosecution is necessary, but persecution was not. These factors call for mercy.'' 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 Shaul Osadchey from Fastow's synagogue wrote a letter attesting to changes he has seen in Fastow.

"What I've seen is a man who innately had very good values, who was a moral man--who strayed--come back to those values and come back to those commitments to family and community, and I think that's what the judge heard testimony about and I think that's also what the judge acted upon in giving him a reduced sentence, was that this man had returned to the true person that he actually is, and hopefully that he will be able to be in the future."

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. 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.

"He has certainly done some very bad things, but he's also been one of the few participants in the Enron fraud who has stepped up to the plate and agreed to help the victims get a recovery for the consequences of his actions. And so we wanted to make the court aware that he had done that."

But Fastow was taken immediately into custody after the judge rejected his request to turn himself in at a later date. Investor Bryan Durbin spoke on behalf of investors who lost money.

"With any type of proceeding like this it brings closure, and hopefully his statements to the victims will help a lot of people bring closure. Certainly the people that were impacted far more than I, I mean, I was a very small investor in this whole thing."

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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