HOUSTON (AP) — Former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew
Fastow is negotiating a plea bargain that could send the
high-powered executive to prison for his role in the accounting
scandal that brought down the energy company, sources close to the
case said yesterday.

Janna Hutz
Andrew Fastow, former Enron chief financial officer, pictured leaving the federal courthouse in Houston earlier this year. Fastow, along with wife Lea Fastow, is reportedly negotiating a plea bargain that could send the once high-flying couple to federal

Authorities also were drawing up criminal charges against
Enron’s former chief accountant, Richard Causey, who was
expected to surrender today, sources with knowledge of the matter
told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. The
exact nature of the complaint was not immediately clear.

If attorneys and judges agree on the proposed plea deal with
Fastow, the former executive could appear in court to change his
innocent plea to guilty as early as today, the sources said.

Fastow would be the highest-ranking executive to plead guilty in
the criminal investigation of Enron. The company’s collapse
in 2001 was the first in a series of scandals that rattled
corporate America and caused the stock market to plunge.

Fastow allegedly masterminded a complex web of schemes that hid
Enron’s debt, inflated profits and allowed him to skim
millions of dollars for himself, his family and selected friends
and colleagues.

Fastow’s wife, Lea, a former assistant treasurer at Enron,
is negotiating a plea deal along with her husband, the sources
said.

The potential plea deal raises the possibility that prosecutors
are closer to bringing a case against Enron’s former top
executives, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Plea deals often
involve agreements to testify against others, but there was no
immediate indication whether that was happening in this case.

The Houston Chronicle, citing sources it did not identify,
reported yesterday that federal prosecutors are offering Fastow a
10-year sentence. A deal that called for a five-month sentence for
Lea Fastow was rejected by U.S. District Judge David Hittner
yesterday. The judge said the deal was too binding and he wanted
more leeway on her sentence.

Attorneys for the Fastows did not return calls seeking comment.
The family’s spokesman, Gordon Andrew, declined comment.

Fastow, 42, is charged with 98 counts of fraud, money
laundering, insider trading and other charges. He is free on $5
million bond pending trial scheduled for April.

Lea Fastow, 42, is set to go to trial Feb. 10 on six counts of
conspiracy and filing false tax forms.

Causey, 43, was fired Feb. 14, 2002, after a board of directors
report noted his failure to properly monitor a partnership that
became a focal point of the fraud investigation. The partnership,
called LJM, was devised by Fastow.

Causey’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, did not immediately
return a call.

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