Ex-Enron Broadband CEO Goes to Prison for Texas Securities Fraud

Joseph Hirko, the ex-Enron Broadband Chief Executive Officer, has been sentenced to a prison term of 16 months for Texas securities fraud. Hirko pleaded guilty to wire fraud a year ago for giving out false information to improve Enron’s financial figures.

The former Enron Broadband CEO and others knew that the broadband operating system was still in development yet Hirko promoted it in press releases and during analyst conferences in order to to elevate Enron’s stock price.

The US Justice Department says Hirko consented to give up approximately $7 million, which will be given through the SEC’s Enron Fair Fund to Enron victims. As part of Hirko’s plea agreement, Enron Creditor’s Recovery Corp. will get $1.7 million from him.

The sentence issued by US District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore is the maximum possible under federal guidelines for the wire fraud charge. If Hirko had been found guilty during trial, he could have been sentenced to years in prison.

The former Enron Broadband CEO and several others were accused of numerous activities connected to the artificial inflation of the company’s stock. Chief Operating Officer Kevin Hannon and Hirko’s co-CEO, Ken Rice, also pleaded guilty.

Hirko and four other defendants, Rex Shelby, Kevin Ward, Scott Yeager, and Michael Krautz, went to trial in 2005. They were acquitted on certain charges but the jury deadlocked on the rest of the charges. Retrials were scheduled.

A jury acquitted Krautz and convicted Howard, but Judge Gilmore threw out the latter’s conviction on the grounds that the government applied a flawed legal theory. Howard then pleaded guilty. The Supreme Court ruled that because the jury acquitted Yeager of other charges connected to the same alleged scam, he could not be retried.

Related Web Resources:
Former Broadband CEO given 16-month sentence, Chron.com, September 28, 2009

Ex-Enron Broadband Co-CEO Sentenced for Wire Fraud, Bloomberg, September 28, 2009
Read May 15, 2000 Enron Broadband press release, HighBeam.com
The Fall of Enron, Houston Chronicle
Our Texas securities fraud lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP represent investment fraud clients in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and other cities throughout the state.