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Enron energy trader indicted

/ Source: The Associated Press

A former top executive at Enron Corp. was indicted on 11 counts of conspiracy and fraud Thursday in connection with the company’s manipulation of energy markets during California’s power crisis.

John Forney, 41, of Ohio, is the third Enron official indicted on allegations that they manipulated California’s electricity prices from Enron’s office in Portland, Ore.

Forney allegedly oversaw a trading desk where Enron charged California for electricity that wasn’t delivered, thus failing to alleviate backlogged transmission lines in 2000, at a time when some parts of the state suffered rolling blackouts.

“They made it look like they were relieving congestion and they would just get paid for it,” said federal prosecutor Matthew Jacobs.

Neither Jacobs nor the indictments said how much money Houston-based Enron allegedly bilked from California energy consumers.

Forney is expected to enter a plea Friday.

The indictment also alleges that Forney oversaw a scheme by which the same energy was sold back and forth from California to other states without being delivered.

Timothy Belden, a former Enron trader accused of masterminding the scheme to drive up energy prices during California’s power crisis, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy in the government’s first public acknowledgment that criminal activity helped inflate energy prices.

Belden has been cooperating with authorities and is expected to testify against Forney at his trial next year.

In February, Jeffrey Richter, another former top-level Enron trader in Portland, pleaded guilty to two federal felonies based on charges that he helped defraud California through a scheme to drive up energy prices during the state’s power crisis.

Richter also has been assisting the government’s probe into electricity manipulation.

“We’ve charged the key three people at Enron’s trading facility,” Jacobs said.