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Judge offers to accept Fastow plea

Jan. 8, 2004 at 4:03 PM

HOUSTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Houston said Thursday he would accept a guilty plea from former Enron assistant treasurer Lea Fastow.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner's request for a pre-sentencing investigation, however, could unravel her proposed plea bargain deal and one for her husband, former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Hittner said he would not accept the proposed 5-month prison term for Lea Fastow without more information. Her lawyer warned the judge further delays might unravel actions involving the Enron criminal cases.

Hittner gave defense attorneys until noon Friday to tell him whether Lea Fastow will enter the guilty plea. Jury selection is already under way for her Feb. 10 trial.

Lea Fastow is charged with six criminal counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and four counts of making false tax returns. Her husband faces nearly 100 charges, including fraud, money laundering, and securities fraud.

Defense attorneys believe Enron prosecutors hope Andrew Fastow's testimony will help them determine if criminal charges should be filed against former Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling and former Chairman Ken Lay, the Chronicle reported.

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