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Sources: Enron Accountant Next Target

Charges on ex-accounting chief may follow Fastows' guilty pleas

Jan 16, 2004 | AP

Now that prosecutors have secured a guilty plea and cooperation from Enron Corp.'s former finance chief Andrew Fastow, criminal charges against the company's former top accountant won't be far behind, sources told The Associated Press.

Like Fastow, Enron's chief accounting officer Richard A. Causey answered directly to former Enron chief executives Kenneth Lay and his successor, Jeffrey Skilling.

Authorities were preparing a criminal complaint against Causey on charges stemming from the Justice Department's two-year investigation of the energy giant's collapse, sources close to the Enron scandal investigation said last week, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But the parties involved in the guilty pleas from Fastow and his wife wanted those secured before moving on to Causey, the sources said. Snags in plea talks for Lea Fastow put any action against Causey on the back burner, the sources said this week.

With that now done, Causey could surrender as early as today, but more likely next week, the sources said.

In pleading guilty Wednesday to two counts of conspiracy to fraud, Andrew Fastow admitted that he and other senior managers fraudulently manipulated Enron's financial results and that he engaged in schemes to enrich himself at the expense of Enron's shareholders.

His indictment, handed up in October 2002, also referred to the chief accounting officer as having a secret deal with Fastow ensuring that Fastow wouldn't lose money when one of many shady partnerships he ran did business with Enron. Causey was chief accounting officer when the partnerships were operating.

Fastow accepted a 10-year prison sentence and agreed to forfeit $23.8 million in cash and property. Lea Fastow pleaded guilty to one count of filing false tax forms. She is awaiting a judge's decision on whether to accept a plea agreement that would send her to prison for five months and keep her confined at home another five months.

Causey's proximity to the former top executives at Enron could help prosecutors build cases against Skilling and Lay if he cooperates and has incriminating information. Neither Skilling nor Lay have been charged.

Lay's attorney, Michael Ramsey, said Thursday that his client felt a "sense of betrayal" after Wednesday's pleas by the Fastows.

"It's a betrayal of trust that's tragic in its proportions," Ramsey said.

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