Judge sparks controversy in Enron trial
The trial of Lea Fastow, wife of Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer at the heart of the Enron scandal, has exploded in controversy even before its official start date.
The judge in the case unexpectedly reversed his agreement to a plea deal by Lea Fastow that had been pivotal in persuading her husband, Enron’s chief financial officer at the time of the scandal, to co-operate with prosecutors.
Lea Fastow had pleaded guilty to one felony count on the understanding that a further five would be dropped, but Judge David Hittner announced, during a sentencing hearing, that he would not consider himself bound by the deal.
Lea Fastow withdrew her guilty plea following the judge’s decision, replacing an agreed ten-month sentence with uncertainty about her fate.
Both prosecution and defence were taken aback by the judge’s decision, The New York Times reported. A date for the trial, which will be the first Enron case to be heard by a jury, was set for 2 June.