The federal government's intermittent plea negotiations with alleged Enron co-conspirator Rick Causey may be bearing fruit on the eve of his trial. The Houston Chronicle
is reporting that with the trial of Causey, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling scheduled to begin January 17, a plea deal could be reached this week. The Chronicle's article says that Causey doesn't have the financial assets to hire legal heavyweights like Skilling and Lay can and that Causey has hired his brother in law as counsel due to a "lack of funds."
It brings about happy thoughts in me the damage a flipped Causey can do to Ken Lay's and Jeffrey Skillings' defense.
Causey's name is first on the indictment at the center of next month's trial but last on the minds of most people. As chief accounting officer he lacked the status -- and the salary -- of former CEO Skilling or former Chairman Lay.
But he is an essential link between the government's likely star witness, former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow, and the other two executives.
Causey and Fastow worked closely together, dividing between them the oversight of key financial and accounting operations at the energy giant.
Causey, along with Skilling and another officer, were assigned by Enron's board of directors to sign off on Enron's transactions with partnerships run personally by Fastow that were at the heart of the company's downfall.
According to prosecutors, Causey and Fastow hand-wrote a document known as the "global galactic" agreement that essentially ensured the Fastow partnerships would not lose money in their Enron deals.
I take very personally what Enron's criminal managers brought on to my state in 2001 and I don't even live in California. What happened in California still enduces horror in me; I find it impossible to understand how a person could be a part of such acts. I <bdo</b> live in Washington State, and Enron and the other colluding energy firms brought a 40% increase in the wholesale rate of electricity to my state in 2001 with their contrived power shortages and contracts to provide electricity at quintupled rates. Ken Lay had this to say about California governments efforts to stop Lay's criminal enterprise:
"In the final analysis, it doesn't matter what you crazy people in California do, because I got smart guys who can always figure out how to make money."
Well screw you Ken. Here's hoping Causey flips and you and Skilling spend some time in the gray bar hotel. I also wish to congratulate and encourage the Federal prosecutors who are working this incredibly complex and vital case. It is as much a test case for American ethics any other on going scandal. The eternal optimist in me sees it as an opportunity for us to reclaim some territory for the good guys, like the resignation of Duke Cunningham did. The outcome of this case will be a lesson for American business: can fraud on the scale of Enron be gotten away with?