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Ex-Merrill Banker Brown Won’t Face Retrial in Enron Barge Case

Merrill Lynch & Co. former banker James A. Brown won’t be retried on fraud charges related to his alleged role in an Enron Corp. scheme involving the sham sale of Nigerian electricity-generating barges.

Prosecutors, in a court filing yesterday, asked U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. in Houston to dismiss three charges against Brown. The judge on Sept. 14 denied the government’s request to postpone the trial, which was set to start Sept. 20.

Brown, who headed Merrill’s strategic leasing and finance group, was convicted in November 2004 of wire fraud and conspiracy in an alleged scheme to help Enron inflate earnings through the sham sale of the barges to the bank. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans threw out fraud verdicts against Brown and three other men in August 2006.

Brown, whose conviction for lying to investigators was upheld, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review that case. Prosecutors had asked the judge to delay the trial until Brown’s appeal of his conviction on the other charge was completed to avoid the possibility of an additional trial.

Patrick Stokes, deputy chief of the fraud section with the criminal division of the Justice Department, didn’t immediately return a call to his office after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is USA v. Bayly, 4:03-cr-00363, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

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