US Airways pilots union voted to send out a contract to its 3,200 pilots, meant to save the airline $300 million a year, calling for a five-year pay cut of 18 percent and cuts to benefits and vacation. US Airways said it still intends to ask a judge tomorrow to make temporary cuts of 23 percent on all union workers and cut its retirement plans. The pilots' votes will be tallied Oct. 21. US Airways said the union representing about 65 flight crew training instructors ratified a contract that will save it $1.6 million annually.

Ex-Enron Official Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Former Enron assistant treasurer Timothy Despain pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating the company. Despain appeared before U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. in Houston and said he helped manipulate the company's credit rating to make Enron stock and bonds more appealing to investors. The maximum penalty for Despain's crime is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors agreed to recommend a lesser sentence in return for Despain's cooperation with the Enron Task Force.

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PeopleSoft, which has resisted hostile takeover advances from Oracle for 16 months, is willing to talk about a deal, a member of PeopleSoft's board said. On the stand for the second day in a trial over PeopleSoft's takeover defenses, PeopleSoft director Steven D. Goldby said the board would be willing to talk about an Oracle acquisition if the price was right and there was a "high certainty" that a deal could close quickly. Separately, Microsoft chief executive Steven A. Ballmer said Microsoft isn't interested in bidding for PeopleSoft.

A controversial court decision that could allow companies and governments to copy and read e-mails before they reach recipients has been set aside and the case will be reheard. The June ruling, issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, will be heard by the full court in December after objections were lodged by privacy advocates and the Justice Department.

A House Government Reform subcommittee investigating Iraq's oil-for-food program expanded its probe to the Bush administration, agreeing to subpoena documents on the U.S. postwar management of oil revenue and, if necessary, audits on contracts for reconstruction projects, including a $1.5 billion noncompetitive contract given to Halliburton.

Service-sector activity slowed moderately in September, according to a private research group's study. The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index was 56.7 in September, compared with 58.2 in August. September marks the 18th consecutive month of expansion. The employment index increased to 54.6 from 52.5.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has notified at least three mutual fund firms they may have miscalculated fees they charge for outperforming the market. Putnam Research Fund, Gartmore U.S. Growth Leaders Fund, and WWW Internet Fund said they were notified that they made the same type of mistake as John Montgomery, chief executive of Bridgeway Capital Management. Montgomery and Bridgeway last month settled SEC allegations that they miscalculated performance fees.

Putnam Investments was rehired by the Massachusetts state pension, a year after it was fired over accusations that it allowed improper trading of mutual funds. Putnam is to manage $250 million of stocks, less than one-fifth of the $1.74 billion it previously managed for the retirement system.

EBay asked for a new trial on claims the company stole ideas for an electronic marketplace from a Virginia inventor. A lawyer for eBay said a federal jury received incomplete instructions before it found the company had infringed on two patents held by MercExchange.

The House approved by a 399 to 1 vote a measure designed to curb "spyware" computer programs. The bill directs the Federal Trade Commission to fine violators as much as $3 million for actions such as changing a Web browser's start page without the user's knowledge or collecting data on users' keystrokes. The measure goes to the Senate.

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled that a former employee can sue Wal-Mart Stores for failing to accommodate her need to undergo kidney dialysis on the job. The former Sam's Club employee claims the store, operated by Wal-Mart, put her on disability leave rather than allow her to perform the required procedure at work.

Camden Property Trust agreed to buy Summit Properties, which owns upscale apartments, mostly in Washington and southeast Florida, for about $1.1 billion in cash and stock. The two real estate investment trusts said the merger creates the country's fifth-largest public owner of apartment buildings.

AT&T is testing Linux software as a replacement for Microsoft's Windows operating system, which runs the 70,000 personal computers used by its employees.

George Soros is handing greater control of his $12.8 billion money-management firm to his sons and spinning off his real estate, credit and buyout units, according to a memo sent to investors and staff. Soros's sons, Robert and Jonathan, will become co-deputy chairmen of Soros Fund Management, according to the memo. Their father remains chairman.

IAC/InterActiveCorp, owner of the Expedia Internet travel service and HSN home-shopping television network, will slow its pace of acquisitions to concentrate on improving earnings, said chief executive Barry Diller, also a director of The Washington Post Co. He also said the company plans to boost its presence in Asia.

Lazard, the world's largest investment banking partnership, delayed a decision on going public, giving chief executive Bruce Wasserstein time to win support from more of the firm's 160 partners and get the chairman's support, people familiar with the company said.

Monsanto said it won a 12-year patent dispute over technology used to modify genes in plants such as cotton. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the St. Louis agricultural chemical company was the first to invent agrobacterium transformation in dicot plants.

PalmOne and Microsoft announced a licensing deal that will allow PalmOne's Treo smart phones to work directly with Microsoft's Exchange e-mail system.

Media General named Thomas A. Silvestri president and publisher of its flagship newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Silvestri is to succeed J. Stewart Bryan III on Jan. 1, becoming the first publisher outside the family since 1887. Bryan will remain chairman and chief executive of Media General.

Pitney Bowes, a producer of postage meters, said it plans to buy assets of Ancora Capital & Management Group, which has a mail facility in Baltimore. The firm plans to pay about $35 million in cash and assumed debt for the provider of first-class, standard-letter and international mail processing and presort services.

INTERNATIONAL

An Italian judge ordered two former auditors of Parmalat to stand trial at the end of January in the fraud scandal's first indictments. Maurizio Bianchi and Lorenzo Penca, who worked for auditing firm Grant Thornton, will be tried on charges of falsely certifying the dairy giant's balance sheets and proposing fictitious operations to carry out the fraud.

LOCAL BUSINESS

US Airways Group said the number of passenger miles flown in September for US Airways and US Airways Express rose 6.7 percent and 93.4 percent, respectively. US Airways reported a 3.3 percent increase in revenue passenger miles for the third quarter ended in September compared with the same period a year ago.

Nextel Communications sued a California agency to overturn state regulations that created the stiffest cell phone consumer-protection laws in the country. The Reston company claims the California Public Utilities Commission's approval of the Telecommunications Bill of Rights would exert state regulatory control over wireless services in violation of federal policy and the U.S. Constitution.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.

Peter German, right, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said a year-long investigation of telemarketing has led to 135 arrests and 70 people being convicted on U.S. and Canadian fraud charges. The Justice Department said telemarketing scams cost victims about $1 billion. Federal agencies including the Federal Trade Commission have brought numerous civil complaints, and U.S. states have taken 279 criminal, civil and regulatory actions.