Lea Fastow Pleads Guilty, to Serve One Year in Federal Prison

Lea Fastow, wife of the former Enron CFO, pleaded guilty Thursday in a Houston courtroom to one misdemeanor charge. She will serve one year in federal prison and one year of supervision after she is released.

The 42-year-old Houston socialite is a former Enron assistant treasurer who was instrumental in securing Enron's world-class art collection. She was surrounded by family and friends before her guilty plea, and after presiding U.S. District Judge David Hittner left the courtroom, she burst into tears.

Fastow pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of willfully delivering a joint 2000 tax return that reported more than $48 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service. Under her original plea bargain, she had pleaded guilty to a tax felony. The new guilty plea will not bar her from being employed in certain occupations, nor will it bar her from voting.

Hittner had refused to accept the original plea under the agreement between the defense and prosecution, and on Thursday, he scolded prosecutors for changing the original six felony-count indictment to one misdemeanor. Hittner also suggested that justice may not have been served in the case.

Fastow will be incarcerated in a still-undetermined federal prison. The Bureau of Prisons will decide the location, and for any sentence of 12 months or less, no time off for good behavior is given.

Her husband Andrew Fastow already has pleaded guilty to two felony charges, and he faces up to 10 years in prison for his role in Enron's fraudulent schemes. He is cooperating with the Enron Task Force, and most likely will not go to prison until he fulfills his plea agreement and the investigation is complete. That may take up to a year or longer.

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