On to a more pleasant topic: Both Andy and Lea Fastow are reportedly in plea bargain negotiations with federal prosuctors that could net them jail time.
Federal prosecutors are discussing a 10-year sentence for Andrew Fastow, and the plea bargain offered to Lea Fastow in November for a five-month term is back on the table, sources close to the case told the Houston Chronicle.
But the deals could still collapse, as Lea Fastow's did in November. Two federal judges, prosecutors and the defendants all must agree on the details for a plea to be finalized.
One of Andrew Fastow's San Francisco lawyers, Jan Little, was scheduled to arrive in Houston Tuesday night, and his lead lawyer, John Keker, is due here today. Enron Task Force Director Leslie Caldwell, who has spent little time in Houston in recent months, was at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse downtown Tuesday.
Discussions with the two judges who must approve the deals are expected to take place beginning today.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner must agree to Lea Fastow's plea bargain. Despite the plea negotiations, the judge has not withdrawn his order that 250 prospective jurors be called to the courthouse Thursday morning to answer a questionnaire to see if they are fit to serve as jurors in Lea Fastow's Feb. 10 trial on six criminal charges.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt would have to sign off on Andrew Fastow's plea bargain. Andrew Fastow faces nearly 100 charges and has asked the judge to move his trial out of Houston, preferably out of the state.
It is unclear how much or whether the Fastows would be cooperating with the government, though it would be surprising if they did not do so.
Defense lawyers involved in the case have long assumed prosecutors consider Andrew Fastow the prize witness in their effort to charge former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and possibly even former Chairman Ken Lay.
It is likely the Fastows would be forced to pay restitution.
Prosecutors have already frozen the proceeds from the sale of the Fastows' River Oaks mansion and some of the couple's bank accounts, saying they were financed with money taken from Enron.
Andrew Fastow's protegé [Michael] Kopper agreed to return $12 million he made from Enron-related deals.
UPDATE: Well, that was quick. No deal for Lea Fastow, sayeth the judge.
A federal judge today rejected a proposed plea bargain that would have meant a five-month prison sentence for Lea Fastow, the former assistant treasurer at Enron and wife of ex-chief financial officer Andrew Fastow.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner rejected the plea agreement reached between Lea Fastow's lawyers and prosecutors because it would have given him no leeway to increase the sentence, sources close to the case told the Houston Chronicle.
Lea Fastow had been expected to plead guilty to one of her six counts and could be subject to up to a 16-month prison term.
A plea could be reworked so the judge will accept it but that would likely entail Lea Fastow accepting a longer term in prison. If no deal is reached, she is scheduled to go on trial on Feb. 10.
It is unclear whether Hittner's decision will have any effect on the plea deal being negotiated by Andrew Fastow. That deal -- before a different federal judge -- calls for the former Enron CFO to serve 10 years in prison.