Ex-Enron Exec Gets Two Years Probation

The Associated Press
Friday, October 6, 2006; 7:12 PM

HOUSTON -- Former Enron executive Paula Rieker was sentenced Friday to two years probation instead of the decade she faced in prison, becoming the second official of the failed energy giant in as many weeks to be shown leniency in exchange for cooperation in the case.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon to give Rieker, the former corporate secretary and No. 2 executive in the investor relations department, a reduced sentence for insider trading because of her help in the Enron investigation.

"A two year term of probation is appropriate," Harmon said, crediting Rieker for helping prosecutors in their probe and volunteering in her community since her arrest.

A federal judge last week reduced the prison time for former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow from 10 years to six.

Harmon on Thursday granted Fastow a pass to be released from prison during daylight hours through Halloween, but in custody of U.S. Marshals, so he can give a deposition in shareholder litigation.

Rieker, 52, pleaded guilty in May 2004 to insider trading for selling company shares in mid-2001 upon learning that Enron's broadband unit lost millions of dollars more than had been publicly disclosed.

"I am very, very sorry for that wrongdoing," a tearful Rieker told Harmon. "I have done my best to cooperate and support the (Enron) task force in their various cases. I will continue to take responsibility for my actions."

She is among 16 ex-Enron executives who have pleaded guilty in the probe of the company's collapse.

"I think the court did the right thing," Rieker's attorney, Wes Loegering, said after the hearing.

Rieker was also fined $50,000, which will be paid to victims of Enron's collapse. She has already paid back more than $800,000 to Enron and the federal government.

Prosecutor Sean Berkowitz complimented Rieker for her help in the government's case.

Prosecutors earlier in the week had asked Harmon to give Rieker a reduced sentence because she provided "powerful and credible testimony" in the trial earlier this year that led to criminal convictions of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

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