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Ex-Reliant Gas Trader Given Maximum 57-Month Prison Sentence

A former natural gas trader for Reliant Energy on Tuesday received the maximum 57-month prison sentence for providing false trading data to index publishers in 2000. Jerry Futch pleaded guilty last year, but he had asked the court to throw out his indictment last month (see NGI, Feb. 20).

U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner in Houston imposed the maximum sentence, but the court waived all fines against Futch because the former trader apparently is unable to pay the fines. Futch was indicted in late 2004 on four counts of fraudulent reporting along with four other gas traders who worked for El Paso Corp. and Dynegy Inc. (see NGI, Dec. 6, 2004). He is the first to be sentenced.

Futch originally was accused of sending a total of four e-mails to Inside FERC -- two on Nov. 29, 2000, and one each on Dec. 27, 2000 and Jan. 2, 2001, which each purported to describe fixed-price physical natural gas trades by Reliant and included volume and price data for individual trades at the Columbia Gas Appalachian and Transco Zone 6 price hubs. Futch allegedly knew the information was inaccurate because reported trades were not fixed-price physical natural gas trades.

Futch first pleaded guilty to all four counts, and then changed his plea to guilty in May 2005 on one count of knowingly delivering via interstate wires inaccurate information of gas trading data. However, last month, Futch asked the court to toss his indictment because he said his rights to due process and counsel were violated.

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