Published January 13, 2015
Here is a chronology of significant events in the Enron case:
1997 — Finance executive Andrew Fastow created his first partnership designed to kept debt off Enron's balance sheet, a first step toward similar financial moves to hide debt and inflate profits that lead to Enron's downfall.
1998 — Fastow named finance chief.
2000 — December: Enron announces Jeffrey Skilling, who headed the company's commodities trading in the deregulated markets before becoming chief operating officer, would replace Enron founder Kenneth Lay as chief executive in February.
2001 — August: Skilling resigns after six months; Lay named CEO again.
October: Enron reports a $638 million third-quarter loss and discloses a $1.2 billion reduction in shareholder equity, partly related to partnerships run by Fastow that hid huge amounts of debt as well as writedowns in money-losing broadband and water trading ventures. Fastow ousted.
November: Enron files documents with SEC revising its financial statements for previous five years to account for $586 million in losses.
Dec. 2: Enron goes bankrupt, thousands of workers laid off.
2002 — January: Justice Department confirms it has begun a criminal investigation of Enron. Lay resigns as chairman and CEO.
February: Lay resigns from the board.
March: Former Enron auditor Arthur Andersen LLP indicted for destroying Enron-related documents to thwart investigators.
June: Arthur Andersen LLP convicted.
August: Former top Fastow aide Michael Kopper pleads guilty to money laundering and conspiracy, the first ex-Enron executive to strike a deal with prosecutors. He identifies a string of partnerships he says were designed to falsely portray Enron as financially healthy while enriching him, Fastow and others.
October: The Andersen firm sentenced to probation and fined $500,000; firm was already banned from auditing public companies and had only a few hundred employees left after its conviction.
Oct. 31: Fastow indicted on 78 charges of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and other counts.
2003 — April: Andrew Fastow's wife Lea is charged with tax crimes and conspiracy participating in some of husband's deals.
2004 — January: Andrew Fastow pleads guilty to conspiracy in a deal that called for a 10-year sentence and his help in the continuing investigation. Former top Enron accountant Richard Causey pleads innocent to conspiracy and fraud charges for allegedly being "a principal architect" of widespread schemes to mislead investors in the scandal-ridden energy company.
February: Skilling added to Causey indictment, pleads innocent to more than 30 counts including conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, and Causey with 31 counts.
May: Lea Fastow pleads guilty to a reduced charge of filing a false tax form, a misdemeanor, and is sentenced to the maximum sentence of one year in a federal prison.
July 7: Sealed indictment against Lay handed up.
July 8: Lay surrenders to FBI. Indictment unsealed, accusing him of participating in a conspiracy to manipulate Enron's quarterly financial results, making false and misleading public statements about the company's financial performance and omitting facts necessary to make financial statements accurate and fair. Lay pleads innocent.
July 12: Lea Fastow begins serving prison sentence.
July 15: U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez confirms Enron's reorganization plan.
August: Former top Enron trader John Forney pleads guilty in San Francisco to manipulating energy prices during California's power crisis in 2000-2001.
October: Former Enron assistant treasurer Timothy Despain pleads guilty to conspiracy and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors. A federal judge grants Lay a trial separate from Skilling and Causey on charges of bank fraud and lying to banks about using loans to buy Enron stock on margin, but rules the trio will be tried together on other charges.
2005 — February: A federal judge sets the Lay, Skilling and Causey trial for Jan. 17, 2006 to accommodate attorney commitments to other clients in 2005.
July: Lea Fastow released from halfway house shortly after midnight, ending her prison stay.
Dec. 28: Former top accountant Richard Causey pleads guilty to securities fraud and agrees to help pursue convictions against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling. Under plea deal, Causey agrees to serve seven years in prison and forfeit $1.25 million to the government, but if the government is happy with his cooperation, prosecutors can ask that his sentence be reduced to five years.