A former Enron accountant was cleared of conspiracy and fraud charges in the first Enron criminal trial, while five others were convicted on charges related to a sham deal that padded the bankrupt energy giant's earnings by $12 million, according to published reports.

A Houston jury acquitted Sheila Kahanek but convicted a former Enron finance executive and four ex-Merrill Lynch bankers in a 1999 deal in which Enron pumped up earnings by pretending to sell an interest in Nigerian barges to Merrill Lynch, according to reports. Kahanek testified that she opposed a verbal promise that Enron would resell or buy back Merrill's interest in the barges within six months, according to the Associated Press.

"I worked with a lot of fine people at Enron. The things I learned about, the things I've seen throughout this trial, have been just as surprising to me as a lot of other people who sat in that courtroom. But I would definitely like for Enron to be behind me," Kahanek told the Houston Chronicle..

All six of the defendants faced charges of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to falsify books and records, and two counts of wire fraud. Daniel Bayly, 57, of Connecticut, former head of global investment banking at Merrill; William Fuhs, 36, of Colorado, a former vice president in Merrill's lease finance group; and Robert Furst, 43, of Dallas, a former Merrill managing director, were convicted on all three charges, according to reports.

Dan Boyle, 41, of Clear Lake, former vice president of Enron's global finance group, was convicted of all three charges, as well as a charge of lying to a congressional investigator about the deal. James A. Brown, 52, of Connecticut, former managing director of Merrill's strategic asset lease and finance group, was convicted of all three charges and of perjury before the Enron grand jury and obstruction of the grand jury investigation, reports said.

The verdict marks the first jury finding for aiding and abetting the Enron scheme. Fourteen former Enron employees have pleaded guilty to various crimes, according to the Chronicle.

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