HOUSTON – The wife of former Enron Corp (search). finance chief Andrew Fastow (search) must report to a federal prison in downtown Houston rather than the minimum-security prison camp where she wanted to serve her yearlong sentence for helping her husband hide ill-gotten income.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner has ordered Lea Fastow (search) to surrender at the prison July 12. She pleaded guilty May 6 to a misdemeanor tax crime and Hittner sentenced her to the maximum of one year in prison.
Last month Hittner rejected her request that he recommend the Federal Bureau of Prisons (search) place her at a minimum- security prison camp for women in Bryan, about 90 miles northwest of Houston.
The bureau ultimately chooses where inmates serve time, but prison officials try to accommodate a judge's recommendation if the institution's security level matches the crime. Hittner's refusal to recommend a specific institution left the decision to the bureau.
Tracy Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Tuesday it was not uncommon for inmates to serve an entire sentence at a detention center — essentially a federal jail — rather than at a camp or other institution. She declined to comment specifically on Lea Fastow's placement.
Lea Fastow's lawyer, Mike DeGeurin, didn't return calls for comment Tuesday.
Hittner sentenced Lea Fastow after months of legal wrangling in which the Fastows' lawyers sought to minimize her time away from their two young children. He issued the surrender order late Monday.
Lea Fastow originally was charged in April 2003 with six felony counts — four counts of filing false tax forms and two counts of conspiracy — for helping Andrew Fastow hide ill-gotten income from the government by disguising it as gifts. Some of the money came in checks written to their two sons that she endorsed and deposited.
Her charges came six months after her husband was initially indicted on what eventually grew to 98 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading, money laundering and others for engineering widespread schemes to hide debt, inflate profits and enrich himself on the side.
The Fastows each pleaded guilty in January. He agreed to serve the maximum 10-year sentence for the conspiracy counts and to help prosecutors pursue other cases.
But her plea deal, as presented, bound Hittner to sentence her to five months in prison and five months confined at home. He balked in January, and again in April refused to be bound to the sentence agreed upon by prosecutors and Lea Fastow's lawyers.
She withdrew her plea to the felony and Hittner scheduled a June 2 trial in Brownsville. Prosecutors then charged her with a misdemeanor, to which she pleaded guilty last month.