The people who brought about the Enron (ENRNQ) debacle are slowly starting to pay for their crimes. David W. Delainey, once head of the energy giant's Energy Services Div., pleaded guilty to criminal insider trading on Oct. 30. So far, he is the highest-ranking executive to face jail time. Three lower-level execs -- Ben Glisan, Michael J. Kooper, and Larry Lawyer -- have also pleaded guilty to a variety of criminal charges. All were close associates of Andrew Fastow, Enron's former chief financial officer and the man at the center of its most controversial business deals. He is scheduled to go to trial in April on charges of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.
But many would like to see former Chairman Kenneth L. Lay and ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling behind bars. It's not clear, though, that the Justice Dept. will ever bring charges against the top duo, who have steadfastly maintained that they acted properly. Indeed, they could argue that they did not directly participate in the company's worst deals and that lawyers signed off on them.
Justice's strategy for reaching Skilling and Lay is to flip lower-level execs. First up: Fastow's wife, Lea, who once served as assistant treasurer. She will be in court in February on charges of tax fraud and money laundering.