HOUSTON -- The real estate and grocery heiress married to former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow is beginning her life outside of prison.
Lea Fastow left an 11-story federal lockup in downtown Houston before sunrise yesterday to move into a halfway house where she will serve the last few weeks of her yearlong prison term for failing to declare her husband's illegal kickbacks as income.
''It's supposed to be a tough year," she said as she left the prison flanked by her husband, sister, and lawyers. ''I'm going home to my family soon, and that's exactly what I'm looking forward to."
She arrived minutes later at the Leidel Comprehensive Sanction Center a few blocks from the federal detention center, said her attorney, Mike DeGeurin. Lea Fastow entered prison July 12, 2004, and is set to be released July 10.
''There is no special treatment," DeGeurin said. ''She is not getting any early release, and she is being treated like everyone else."
Tracy Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said it's common for federal inmates to finish their sentences in halfway houses, particularly nonviolent first-time offenders.
The Leidel center is a low-rise institutional structure where Fastow will have a few more freedoms than in prison. She will be required to find a job and earn whatever the employer normally pays, but she'll leave behind menial on-site jobs like kitchen or laundry duty that pay less than 50 cents a day.
Terry Garcia, director of the Leidel facility, said it houses 150 men and women, and each has an individual plan for reintegration into the community and with their families. She declined to discuss Lea Fastow specifically, citing center and bureau policy.