First Enron criminal trial opens in Texas

Sept. 21, 2004 at 7:31 PM

HOUSTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in the first Enron criminal trial said Tuesday they will show jurors e-mail messages proving a conspiracy to falsely inflate the firm's profits.

Attorneys delivered their opening statements after a jury was seated to hear conspiracy and fraud charges against two former mid-level Enron executives and four former Merrill Lynch bankers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Defense attorneys assured the jury their clients believed the sale of three Nigerian electricity barges was legal. One attorney said the real wrongdoing was committed by those higher up in the Enron corporate structure.

"These guys stole more with a briefcase than the Sopranos could steal with a machine gun," said Bill Rosch, an attorney for defendant Dan Boyle.

Boyle and Sheila Kahanek, another Enron executive, are charged in the case along with former Merrill Lynch bankers James A. Brown, Daniel Bayly, William Fuhs and Robert Furst.

Prosecutors allege the six engaged in a scam to add $12 million to Enron's profit sheet by illegally persuading Merrill Lynch to buy the barges and then sell them back to an Enron partnership as a loan.

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