A sixteenth former Enron executive has pleaded guilty in the Justice Department's investigation into the energy giant's bankruptcy.

Christopher Calger, 39, a former Enron vice president, entered his guilty plea in early July at the U.S. District Court in Houston. The single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud means that he will face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Calger has agreed to cooperate with the government and could testify in the trial of former Enron chairman Ken Lay, which is scheduled to begin in January 2006.

Calger supervised employees at the West Power Origination Group of Enron North America, and helped negotiate the sale of a project called Coyote Spring II. The project involved equity interest in a power plant, a contract to build the plant and a turbine to be placed in the plant. As part of the plea, he admitted that he and others engaged in a scheme to recognize earnings prematurely and improperly, as well as participating in a number of side deals.

The investigation into Enron's collapse is being conducted by the Enron Task Force, a team of federal prosecutors within the Justice Department's Criminal Division, and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division. The task force has also coordinated with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is part of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force.

According to the Department of Justice, 34 defendants have been charged in connection with the work of the Enron Task Force, including 25 former Enron executives. The task force has obtained more than $163 million in restitution for victims of the company's bankruptcy.

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