November 07, 2003
Lea Fastow to plead out?

From today's Chron:

Lea Fastow, the wife of ex-Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, is in negotiations with prosecutors for a plea bargain that could send her to federal prison for five months or more.

She could appear in court as early as next week to agree to, and possibly begin, a prison term, sources said.

Why might she accept a plea bargain like this now?

If she were to accept a plea bargain of five months in prison and be immediately incarcerated, she could be home to take care of their children around the time her husband's trial begins April 20, 2004.


A family friend said Lea Fastow is willing to consider pleading guilty and forgoing a chance to tell her side to a jury because it would be better for her two small children and could ensure they would not be without a parent at home. "It's a matter of willing to risk less when it's for her children than she would risk if it were just for herself," the friend said.

Why are prosecutors offering a plea?

Lea Fastow's attorneys have alleged she was charged only to squeeze her husband into pleading guilty and cooperating with the government, perhaps to help prosecutors charge those above him on the corporate ladder: former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling and former Chairman Ken Lay.

Most attorneys involved or closely watching the case said Thursday that the plea bargain is probably being offered because prosecutors believe the squeeze play did not work. A few thought Lea Fastow may be pleading because it did work and Andrew Fastow will hammer out a plea bargain as well. Andrew Fastow's lawyer David Gerger could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Still more questions...Why such a short prison term? Will she be made to cooperate? Spousal privilege may be off the table:

It is unlikely Lea Fastow would be cooperating to help the government convict her husband. But the law states that if discussions between husband and wife are part of a crime, such as a conspiracy to commit fraud, the couple does not have the protection of marital privilege for communication about the conspiracy. In a situation where both participated in a conspiracy, even if only one spouse is charged, the other, if given immunity, might choose to testify about their conversations.

Curioser and curioser. I'll be watching.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 07, 2003 to Enronarama | TrackBack

Not to be too paranoid, and not to impugn the professionalism of the prosecutors, but many of your questions proceed from the assumption that the government is trying to maximize punsihment of wrongdoing in this case. It may be that the political calculation has been made that they got all the cover they needed from the indictements at the Fastow level, and now this is not a priority for them.

Posted by: Doug on November 7, 2003 9:57 AM

Wow, you're more cynical than I am. I really respect that. :-)

They did get a five-year sentence for former treasurer Ben Glisan, which was the max for the count he pled on. So that's something. But you certainly could be right.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on November 7, 2003 10:02 AM