Monday, November 13, 2006

The Last of the Three

It started as three - Lay, Skilling, and Causey. 

Lay is gone, Skilling is embarking on a 24+ sentence that awaits appeal, and Richard Causey, former Chief Accounting Officer at Enron, who dropped off the team middle of the road - that is, after indictment, but before trial --by entering a plea - now will be sentenced tomorrow.

His plea is pretty definitive and calls for 84 months incarceration with a possible reduction to not less than 60 months with a 5K1.1 motion recognizing cooperation. 5K1.1 motions can only be filed by the government, although courts now have some discretion in this post-Booker world. But this plea calls for the court to follow the federal sentencing guidelines, so reductions may only be in the hands of the prosecutor, and only if the government determines that they want a sentence reduction for cooperation.

Just weeks ago, we saw that Andy Fastow's plea called for 10 years and he in fact received 6 years. Causey's plea, however, clearly provides that the agreement is "null and void" if the court fails to follow its terms.  But non-compliance with the terms of the agreement are irrelevant if the parties fail to object to the non-compliance.

And in an odd turn of events, it may be possible that Causey will receive a sentence in excess of Fastow's sentence (see Houston Chronicle here) If this happens then the government would be saying that some cooperation is worth more than other cooperation.  The government may advocate that the timing of the agreement to cooperate is what counts, or they may base it upon unknown factors that the public will never hear. But one has to continually ask whether the federal government should be the one with the power to hold this cooperation factor over the heads of the accused and what happens when our judiciary merely becomes a rubber stamp to prosecutorial power. (see here)   


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Causey's case demonstrates the old adage that if you hang out with crooks, people will mistake you for a crook. While Causey may not have stolen directly, he profited from the crimes of others and deserves to go down with them.

Posted by: John Macossay | Nov 14, 2006 10:12:17 AM

I'm not sure he deserves to "go down" like the rest of them. He didn't personally profit like many others at Enron did. Is Causey on par with Fastow? Absolutely not. Did Causey do something wrong? Absolutely -- he didn't speak up, he didn't do his job as a CPA. Is it fair that Causey and Fastow share a similar punishment? Absolutely not. Who among us has not piped up when something didn't feel/seem/look/etc. right at work ?!!? Is it justice that Fastow and Causey receive the same punishment for very different roles in this debacle? It's my opinion that it's not fair.

Posted by: kstevens | Nov 17, 2006 8:27:24 PM

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