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High court rules in favor of ex-Enron executive

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2009/06/18 16:03

The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with a former Enron Corp. executive in a ruling that makes it unlikely he can be tried a second time on charges related to financial fraud at the one-time energy giant.


The court, in a 6-3 vote, threw out an appeals court ruling that would have allowed a retrial of F. Scott Yeager, a former executive at Enron's failed broadband venture, on charges for which a jury could not reach a verdict at his first trial.

But Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, did not completely shut the door to another trial.

Yeager sold Enron stock for more than $54 million before the company began a downward spiral that ended in bankruptcy in 2001.

In his first trial in 2005, Yeager faced 125 counts and was acquitted of five, including four counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on the remaining counts, which alleged insider trading and money laundering.

Yeager was later reindicted on 13 counts of insider trading and money laundering.

The issue for the court is whether a variation on the Constitution's guarantee against double jeopardy applies in this situation: The jury votes not guilty on some charges, but fails to reach a verdict on others that are based upon the same essential facts as the charges that resulted in acquittal.

Prosecutors frequently retry defendants when juries can't reach a verdict. They cannot pursue a defendant when juries return not guilty verdicts. This case was about what happens when there is a combination of those elements.


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