Defendants Convicted in First Enron Trial

The government has secured all-important convictions against the first group of Enron defendants, signaling that juries have had enough of corporate malfeasance, the New York Times reported.

Convicted Wednesday in a Houston federal court were four former Merrill Lynch executives and a former Enron official, who were found guilty of conspiring to help Enron report false profits.

The jury split in its decision concerning the two former Enron executives charged in the case, convicting one and acquitting the other.

The case hinged on a single transaction-what the government argued was a bogus sale of an interest in barges by Enron to Merrill-but the underpinnings of the case are the same in many of the other pending Enron trials, the Times reported.

Convicted were former Wall Street luminaries, including Daniel Bayly, the former head of global investment banking at Merrill, and James A. Brown, the former head of the firm's project and lease finance group. The other former Merrill executives convicted yesterday include Robert S. Furst, a banker in the Houston office responsible for managing the Enron relationship, and William Fuhs, a banker who did some work on the barge deal, the Times reported.

Dan Boyle, a former executive in Enron's finance division who is a virtual unknown to the public, was also convicted. Sheila Kahanek, the accountant who was acquitted, had worked on the barge deal, with prosecutors contending she had ordered another executive to destroy evidence about the transaction, the Times reported.

"What this does is, for other cases that are out there, is make defendants see that juries are not very sympathetic with white-collar criminals," John J. Fahy, a former federal prosecutor in New Jersey, told the Times. "It's a good message to businesses that they have to stay on the up and up."

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