As anticipated, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore this afternoon vacated the conviction of former Enron Broadband executive Kevin Howard on five counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and falsifying books and records. Kristen Hays’ Chronicle article on the decision is here and the NY Times story on the decision is here.
Inasmuch as Judge Gilmore vacated Howard’s conviction, the Justice Department could try him again, which would be the third time on the same charges. Don’t bet against the DOJ doing just that.
The Enron Task Force prosecuted the first two cases against Howard in the same manner as the case against the defendants in the now utterly discredited Nigerian Barge case. The Task Force first asserted an unwarranted expansion of a criminal law intended to punish kickbacks and bribes against a businessman-defendant who did no such thing. Then, the Task Force took the case to trial and blatantly appealed to the strong juror resentment against anyone having anything to do with Enron to obtain a popular conviction against a supposedly wealthy businessman.
Shattered lives, families and careers now lie in the wake of this outrage. Who is going to answer for that?