HOUSTON (AP) — A former Enron Corp. treasurer pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal conspiracy charge and became the first executive sentenced to prison in the scandal that toppled the energy company.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt sentenced Ben Glisan to five years on a conspiracy conviction, the maximum term allowed, and he was taken into custody immediately. Twenty-three other counts against Glisan were dismissed.
Prosecutors said there was no deal to implicate higher-ranking executives.
Glisan, 37, also agreed to forfeit nearly $1 million in profits from a partnership investment related to Enron and agreed to not seek a refund of $412,000 in income taxes he paid on that profit. Once his sentence is complete, he will be under supervised release for another three years.
“I think I would simply like to say I take full responsibility for my actions,” Glisan told the judge.
About three hours after the court appearance, Glisan, with chains around his ankles, his tie removed and his suit coat draped over his wrists, was led by marshals from the downtown courthouse and into a sedan that drove away with its police lights flashing.
There was no immediate word on where he would be imprisoned.
Glisan had earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy as part of a 109-count indictment against his one-time boss, former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow.
He was the second former Enron executive to plead guilty in the scandal. Michael Kopper, once one of Mr. Fastow’s top lieutenants, pleaded guilty in August 2002 to money laundering and conspiracy. Kopper, who remains free, is cooperating with government investigators.
Despite Glisan’s plea, federal prosecutors said he was not cooperating with them in their investigation of Enron.
“We never were banking on him cooperating with us,” said Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force.
But she said the imprisonment should be a sign for other Enron executives being targeted.
“He was viewed as one of the whiz kids at Enron,” Miss Caldwell said. “The fact that he now admitted he created a fraudulent way for Enron to hide things off its books I think will send a somewhat chilling message to other people.”
At the hearing, Glisan admitted to conspiring to falsify Enron’s financial results to show the company was more successful than reality.
Mr. Glisan was fired in November 2001, less than a month before Enron filed for bankruptcy, when an internal probe revealed he gained the $1 million from a $5,800 investment in one of several complex deals at the heart of the Justice Department’s case against the Houston company.
Last year, Mr. Glisan and his legal team tried to strike a deal with the Justice Department to avoid prosecution by telling what he knew about the financial details.