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Charges filed against ex-energy traders

Federal indictments were unsealed Monday accusing five former natural gas traders at three Houston-based energy companies of reporting fake trades to industry publications.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Federal indictments were unsealed Monday accusing five former natural gas traders at three Houston-based energy companies of reporting fake trades to industry publications.

Three of the men named in the latest charges announced by the Justice Department in Houston worked at El Paso Corp., where five former traders already have pleaded guilty to reporting fake trades.

In addition, new charges were filed against Michelle Valencia, 34, a former Dynegy Inc. trader, whose earlier indictment on another set of false reporting charges is on hold pending an appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal judge had ruled those charges were based on a law that was unconstitutionally broad.

Besides Valencia, the indictments Monday named former El Paso traders Donald E. Burwell, 44; James P. Phillips, 45; and Greg Singleton, 37. All were charged with conspiracy, false reporting and wire fraud.

A former Reliant Energy Inc. gas trader, Jerry A. Futch Jr., 41, was charged with four counts of making false reports.

Earlier this year as many as 10 former El Paso traders and supervisors received letters from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston alerting them they could face charges of manipulating natural gas prices as the scope of a grand jury investigation into the matter expanded.Federal indictments were unsealed Monday accusing five former natural gas traders at three Houston-based energy companies of reporting fake trades to industry publications.

Three of the men named in the latest charges announced by the Justice Department in Houston worked at El Paso Corp., where five former traders already have pleaded guilty to reporting fake trades.

In addition, new charges were filed against Michelle Valencia, 34, a former Dynegy Inc. trader, whose earlier indictment on another set of false reporting charges is on hold pending an appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal judge had ruled those charges were based on a law that was unconstitutionally broad.

Besides Valencia, the indictments Monday named former El Paso traders Donald E. Burwell, 44; James P. Phillips, 45; and Greg Singleton, 37. All were charged with conspiracy, false reporting and wire fraud.

A former Reliant Energy Inc. gas trader, Jerry A. Futch Jr., 41, was charged with four counts of making false reports.

Earlier this year as many as 10 former El Paso traders and supervisors received letters from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston alerting them they could face charges of manipulating natural gas prices as the scope of a grand jury investigation into the matter expanded.