Former Dynegy Inc. tax executive Jamie Olis, currently serving a six-year prison sentence for his role in an accounting scheme, has asked a federal court in Houston to set aside his convictions and free him, or grant him a new trial, according to a recent petition.
The petition claims that federal prosecutors won a conviction of Olis by violating his constitutional rights by preventing him from presenting the defense of his choice.
“[T]he United States Attorney’s Office (“USAO”) acted purposefully to sabotage Olis’ ability to prepare and defend his case by blocking funding from his former employer, Dynegy, despite the fact that Dynegy was legally and contractually obligated to pay the funds,” Olis’ defense team said in its motion for Olis’ release on bail. “The USAO’s course of conduct violated Olis’ Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to present the defense of his choosing.”
The motion also says the USAO improperly amended the indictment of Olis and that Olis received “constitutionally inadequate assistance of counsel” as a result of several missteps at trial.
The personal history of Olis also is detailed in the motion. Born in South Korea, Olis was abandoned by his American soldier father at birth. Olis’ mother later married a sergeant at Fort Hood in Texas. Olis, now 41, graduated from Killeen (TX) High School and won a scholarship to attend St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He married his wife, Monica, in 1989, worked for the accounting firm that sponsored his college scholarship and attended the University of Houston Law Center. He joined Natural Gas Clearinghouse, the predecessor company of Dynegy, in 1998.
Dynegy’s former senior director of tax planning was resentenced in September 2006 to six years in prison (see NGI, Sept. 25, 2006). Olis had been convicted in 2003 and sentenced to 24 years in prison for his part in helping Dynegy inflate its reported cash flow in 2001 through a scheme known as Project Alpha (see NGI, Nov. 17, 2003).
Olis, ex-Dynegy president Gene Foster and Helen Sharkey, a former member of Dynegy’s risk control and deal structure group, originally were indicted in 2003 for their roles in Project Alpha (see NGI, June 16, 2003). Each was charged with criminal conspiracy and securities, wire and mail fraud. Foster, who was Olis’ supervisor, and Sharkey agreed to cooperate with the federal government, and they pleaded guilty to conspiracy in August 2003.
Foster, who testified against Olis, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three months of probation and a $1,000 fine. Sharkey received a one-month sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Using federal sentencing guidelines based on investors’ losses, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sentenced Olis to 24 years in prison, but upon appeal, his sentence was overturned in 2005 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (see NGI, Nov. 7, 2005). The resentencing had been delayed until prosecutors and Olis’ defense team could agree on a damages figure. Prosecutors said in September 2006 that they determined Dynegy’s shareholder losses related to Project Alpha to be around $100 million, which supported the original 24-year sentence. However, they recommended that Olis receive 12-and-a-half years in prison.
Olis, who was resentenced by Lake after the judge had reviewed the recommendations, already has served about three years and four months. He will be eligible for a reduction in his sentence for good behavior on the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons officials.
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