Wednesday, December 28, 2005

They Call Him Flipper, Flipper

Another rat deserts the wreck of the USS Enron.

Enron Corp.'s former chief accountant agreed to plead guilty today to criminal conduct that preceded the company's collapse into bankruptcy, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, sealing a deal that gives prosecutors another key witness against former chief executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling on the eve of their fraud trial.

Richard A. Causey, 45, who is facing more than two dozen criminal charges, is scheduled to appear in a Houston courtroom at 3 p.m. Eastern time today, according to court records. He reported directly to Skilling for years and participated with Lay on conference calls and analyst meetings in the weeks before Enron fell apart.

All three men had been scheduled to face trial Jan. 17, and the trio long had presented a united front. But eleventh hour negotiations with the Justice Department's Enron Task Force -- and the prospect of spending decades behind bars if he gambled at trial and lost -- ultimately proved persuasive for Causey, who had rejected previous government offers, the sources said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the impending trial.

Hoo-boy. January is already sizing up to be a verrrry interesting month. Between the Li'l Prince's pinballing poll ratings and impending domestic spy scandal, and good buddy Ken "Kenny Boy? Never heard of 'im." Lay's trial, and the House returning to "work" minus the Bug Man (despite their protracted "delay" for him), it's a good time to sell short on GOP futures.

The whole Enron debacle went to the back burner after 9/11, of course, but this thing has been brewing for years, and California is still recovering from what Lay and his slimy company did to this state. Count me in with CA State AG Bill Lockyer, who once infamously attested to his desire to toss Lay into a cell in San Quentin with an aggressive cellmate called "Spike".

At least Lay's nickname will probably remain "Kenny Boy" in prison.

Defense lawyers for Lay and Skilling are almost certain to seek a delay in the trial because of Causey's plea deal, the 16th by a former Enron executive.

Jesus. How many years do these assholes need to get their story straight? Can we sic Patrick Fitzgerald on them? Perhaps some "freedomboarding" in Gitmo will help Skilling and Kenny Boy remember what they did.

For friends of Causey, including his next-door neighbor Steve Huey, word of the advanced plea negotiations is bittersweet. They say Causey is devoted to his three children, the youngest of whom is in eighth grade, and is a devout Catholic who helped raise funds for a new church in the Woodlands, an upscale suburb of Houston.

"I don't think Rick has ever believed he did anything wrong," said Huey, who shared a Christmas Eve dinner with Causey and his wife, Elizabeth. "I think that Rick's concern is over the family and what the eventual outcome will be for the family. As you get closer to trial, you start to weigh the options and weigh the odds and the resources the federal government has."

Awwww. You know, fuck Rick Causey, okay? This little asshole enabled Enron to strong-arm the largest state in the US, home to 1 in 9 Americans. Californians watched their utility bills skyrocket almost literally overnight, because Causey's co-workers leaned on every power supplier to artificially drive up the price by an order of magnitude. Then they laundered their ill-gotten gain in hundreds of offshore companies. Then when the feds got hot on their trail, they had a nice little shredding party.

And Rick Causey doesn't believe he ever did anything wrong. Uh-huh. A lot of hard-working Californians literally had to choose between food and lights because of Rick Causey's company, but Causey's a great guy because he raised funds for a church (which the world just doesn't have enough of). I hope his family has the good sense to be ashamed and embarrassed by what Causey was a part of, because he's nothing more than a goddamned criminal. The only difference is, because he wears a suit instead of a ski mask, he'll go to a country-club prison for a few years, while the kid who robbed a liquor store of $300 gets 10-15 in Folsom. Sounds fair.


Error 404 said...

Back in '02, there was a news story about some guy getting blown away by a cop. Guy was harrassing some people and seemed threatening to the cop. Name sounded familiar, and I looked up at the screen. Sure enough, it was the #2 hardware guy from my previous job.

There were no stories about how he was a nice guy. And Joe Bauschek damned well was a nice guy.

Since then, I've had to think about the actual person involved in crime stories. Think about the people who know him, the people who used to stop by his office when their work required it, and maybe sometimes when it wasn't really neccessary.

It's going to be a bit weird for people around Causey. Tough. If he's really such a good guy, visit him in jail and do what you can to help his family.

Heywood J. said...

Yeah, I know what you're saying. I had a similar experience in '02, when a childhood friend, accused of a horrible crime, immediately took off and shot himself several days after the initial accusation.

On the one hand, I assume that innocent people don't instantly run off and kill themselves, but on the other, I never knew that side of him that likely committed that awful crime.

So you're right, that sort of thing does make you at least take pause and realize that the criminal you read about in the newspaper didn't just commit crimes. I have no reason to think that Rick Causey is not a devoted family man. He's probably a perfectly nice guy who genuinely loves his wife and kids.

What I hate is when that sort of thing is made part of the story, as if the endorsement of Causey's next-door neighbor somehow mitigates what Causey did, or helped Lay and Skilling and the rest of the Enron gang to do. It soft-pedals these serious, destructive white-collar crimes, which tend to get soft-pedaled as it is.

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