- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

HOUSTON (AP) Former Enron Corp. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow pleaded not guilty yesterday to a 78-count federal indictment charging him with masterminding complex financial schemes that enriched him and helped doom the energy trading powerhouse.
"Your honor, in answer to each of the charges, I am not guilty," Mr. Fastow said to U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcia Crone during a five-minute hearing.
Mr. Fastow, ousted a year ago as Enron spiraled toward bankruptcy, was initially charged Oct. 2 and indicted last Thursday on various counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and other charges. He entered his plea yesterday afternoon in federal court in Houston.
If convicted, he technically could face a maximum sentence of 860 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines he would be likely to receive far less.
The indictments, returned by a special Enron grand jury in Houston, charge that Mr. Fastow crafted multiple schemes that produced phantom profits and let him skim millions for himself, his family and inner circle.
Mr. Fastow's attorneys have said that top Enron executives approved his work, and that he did not believe he committed any crimes. Former Chief Executive Officers Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth L. Lay were Mr. Fastow's immediate superiors at different times.
Mr. Fastow, 40, is free on $5 million bail. A pretrial conference has been set for Jan. 13 before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt.
At the time of his initial charge, which had been anticipated for months, Mr. Fastow's attorney John W. Keker predicted Mr. Fastow "will be set free" by a jury once all the facts are known.
Prosecutors have said Mr. Fastow has not cooperated as the Enron Task Force pursues the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Weissmann has publicly left the door open to a deal, noting last month that the charges against Mr. Fastow "carry significant jail time."
Enron, No. 7 on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies two years ago, filed for bankruptcy Dec. 2, after revealing a $618 million loss and eliminating $1.2 billion of shareholder equity.
Enron's collapse was the first in a series of corporate scandals that sent investors fleeing from a volatile stock market. Enron's stock collapse destroyed employee retirement accounts, and the bankruptcy cost more than 4,500 workers their jobs.
The indictment charges that Mr. Fastow and others created schemes to defraud Enron and its shareholders through transactions with off-the-books partnerships that made the company look far more profitable than it was.
Prosecutors also say he reaped an estimated $30 million from kickbacks funneled through former lieutenant Michael Kopper and investors or family members. Investigators say Mr. Fastow also siphoned income from the partnerships.
Mr. Kopper has struck a plea agreement with the government in which he is expected to depict Mr. Fastow as the catalyst behind the shady dealings. Mr. Kopper admitted to money laundering and wire fraud in August for creating and participating in some of the transactions.

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