Prosecutors substituted a misdemeanor tax charge against the wife of former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow on Thursday in a new plea bargain to forestall a June trial neither side wanted.

The new tax charge means former Enron assistant treasurer Lea Fastow will not serve more than a year in prison, although she was initially charged with six felony counts that could have led to 37 years.

It is the second deal Fastow’s lawyers struck with Enron Task Force prosecutors. The first blew up on April 7 when the judge on the case refused to limit her sentence to five months in prison.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner still must approve this deal. In the first, Fastow was allowed to pull out if Hittner refused to agree to the proposed five-month sentence.

The plea hearing is set for May 6, at which time Fastow is expected to plead to the misdemeanor charge. Prosecutors would then drop the six felony counts of filing a false tax return and conspiracy to commit money laundering and fraud.

That will preclude a trial that was scheduled to start on June 2 in Brownsville, at Texas’ southernmost tip.

The defense did not want a trial because of the potentially long prison term that could result.

Prosecutors did not want to disclose evidence that could figure in later cases nor overextend their resources, since an Enron-related trial against six defendants is scheduled for June 7.

In Thursday’s filing, the U.S. Justice Department’s Enron Task Force said Lea Fastow delivered a 2000 income tax return she knew to be false.

Although it included nearly $49 million in income, it omitted other money she and her husband had received that year. The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor is 12 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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