A federal judge threw out the conviction of Kevin A. Howard, the former chief financial officer for Enron’s Broadband unit, citing a ruling in a similar case in which the jury’s verdict was vacated.
The decision was based on an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Executives for Enron’s broadband unit had convictions overturned by the New Orleans court after arguing that the actions they took were made in the best interest of the company.
The court said that the government did not prove that defendants had deprived the company of “honest services.” That argument worked in another Enron fraud case involving Merrill Lynch executives and an ill-fated deal for Nigerian barges.
The first trial against Howard, tied to proceedings against a handful of his coworkers, lasted three months in 2005 and ended in a hung jury. Last year, he was convicted on five charges of conspiracy and fraud. His co-defendant in that trial, a former accountant, was acquitted.
The Justice Department has not said whether it will retry the case using a different argument.
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