While the trial against Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling soldiers on, a new trial is about to begin against a handful of executives from Enron's failed broadband unit.
In the first of three retrials, jury selection is scheduled to begin today for a conspiracy trial against the unit's former chief financial officer, Kevin Howard, and its in-house accountant, Michael Krautz. Last year, the three-month trial against the five former executives ended in a hung jury.
Howard and Krautz faced 15 counts of fraud and conspiracy in last year's trial, and the deadlocked jury failed to reach verdicts on any of the charges. The government re-indicted both men on one count of conspiracy and falsifying books and records, and three counts of wire fraud for allegedly faking $111 million in earnings in the fourth quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001.
According to prosecutors, the men signed off on a 20-year contract with Blockbuster Inc. in March 2000 and sold future revenue from the venture to book immediate earnings. The government says that the deal was fraudulent because both men knew Enron had promised to return the buyer's investment and an additional premium. The partnership ended a year later, without ever turning a profit.
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