HOUSTON -- Jurors yesterday rendered a split verdict in the retrial of two former executives from Enron Corp.'s defunct broadband unit, convicting one while acquitting the other of all charges.
Ex-broadband unit finance chief Kevin Howard was convicted of five counts of fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying records. Former in-house accountant Michael Krautz was acquitted of the same charges, concluding a monthlong retrial after their original case ended with a hung jury last year.
The verdict came six days after another local jury convicted Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling of fraud, conspiracy, and other charges. They were convicted of conspiring to run a massive fraud through lies to investors and employees about Enron's financial strength. Enron careened into bankruptcy in December 2001.
Howard and Krautz were accused of participating in a small piece of that fraud in a scheme to manufacture earnings for Enron's flailing broadband unit in late 2000. Dubbed ``Project Braveheart," the deal involved selling an interest in future revenue of a video-on-demand venture that disintegrated a few months later.
Krautz, 37, wept after learning he had been acquitted. ``I feel very sorry for Kevin and his family. I do not feel like they got the justice they deserved," Krautz said. ``That said, me and my family are thrilled."
Howard, 43, declined to comment. Jim Lavine, one of Howard's attorneys, said he would appeal. Howard faces a maximum of 25 years in prison; five years for each count.