Timothy DeSpain
David J. Phillip  /  AP file
Timothy DeSpain, a former assistant treasurer at Enron Corp., leaves a Houston courthouse after being sentenced for lying to credit-rating agencies.
updated 9/15/2006 4:59:37 PM ET 2006-09-15T20:59:37

A former assistant treasurer at the disgraced Enron Corp. was sentenced Friday to four years probation and a $10,000 fine for lying to credit-rating agencies to make the financial picture at the one-time energy giant appear healthier than it was.

Timothy DeSpain, 41, pleaded guilty nearly two years ago to a single charge of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. At the same time, he agreed to cooperate with federal authorities investigating the company, which toppled into bankruptcy in December 2001, evaporating more than $60 billion in market value, almost $2.1 billion in pension plans and, initially, 5,600 jobs.

U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein, who could have imposed up to a five-year prison term and $250,000 fine under federal sentencing guidelines, said he was impressed by DeSpain’s level of cooperation with federal prosecutors looking into the Enron debacle and with letters of support from relatives and friends.

“I’d like to apologize,” DeSpain said in a brief statement to the judge. “I’d like to go back and change everything if I could.”

About 40 family members and supporters attended the nearly hourlong hearing and several broke into sobs of relief when Werlein announced his decision. Later, outside the courtroom, they held hands to form a large circle and were led in a prayer of thanks by the Rev. Ed Young, pastor of Houston’s Second Baptist Church.

“No one’s suggesting Mr. DeSpain’s conduct caused the fall of Enron,” federal prosecutor Sean Berkowitz said. “But he had the opportunity to stand up and wave his arms and say that something is wrong.

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