Enron Corp.’s former chief accountant agreed to plead guilty today to criminal conduct that preceded the company’s collapse into bankruptcy, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, sealing a deal that gives prosecutors another key witness against former chief executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling on the eve of their fraud trial.
Richard A. Causey, 45, who is facing more than two dozen criminal charges, is scheduled to appear in a Houston courtroom at 3 p.m. Eastern time today, according to court records. He reported directly to Skilling for years and participated with Lay on conference calls and analyst meetings in the weeks before Enron fell apart.
All three men had been scheduled to face trial Jan. 17, and the trio long had presented a united front. But eleventh hour negotiations with the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force — and the prospect of spending decades behind bars if he gambled at trial and lost — ultimately proved persuasive for Causey, who had rejected previous government offers, the sources said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the impending trial.