[JURIST] A federal district judge on Wednesday vacated the conviction of former Enron [JURIST news archive] CFO Kevin Howard [Houston Chronicle profile] in light of an August 2006 opinion [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that overturned separate Enron convictions "on the legal ground that the government's theory of fraud relating to the deprivation of honest services ... is flawed." Prosecutors in the Howard case relied on the "honest services" theory in four of the five counts on which Howard was convicted [JURIST report], despite the fact that Howard did not take money or property in negotiating a deal to sell future Enron profits in an alleged mark-to-market accounting fraud scandal, a required element of an "honest services" crime. In November, prosecutors conceded that those four counts should be tossed, but argued that a fifth - falsifying books and records - was not tainted by the honest services theory propounded by prosecutors. In Wednesday's opinion, District Judge Vanessa Gilmore disagreed, finding that the record falsification charge would likely also be overturned on appeal because she linked it to a tainted conspiracy charge in jury instructions requested by prosecutors. The Houston Chronicle has more.
Last October, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling [Houston Chronicle profile] also requested [JURIST report] that the judge presiding over his trial dismiss his conviction [JURIST report] on 19 counts of insider trading, securities fraud, and conspiracy in light of the Fifth Circuit decision.