Former Enron Broadband Chief Sentenced to 16 Months

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-09-28 Print this article Print

Joseph Hirko, former co-CEO of Enron Broadband Services, gets 16 months in prison and is ordered to pay $7 million in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Joseph Hirko, former co-CEO of Enron Broadband Services, was sentenced Sept. 28 to 16 months in prison, according to the Department of Justice. "In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore ordered Hirko ... to forfeit approximately $7 million in restitution to victims through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Enron Fair Fund," the DOJ said in a news release. According to the release:

"Hirko pleaded guilty on Oct. 14, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Houston to one count of wire fraud charged in a superseding indictment.

"In July 2005, Hirko and four other EBS executives were tried on various charges of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud, insider trading and money laundering relating to their employment at Enron. The trial resulted in a mistrial, and Hirko was subsequently charged in a superseding indictment with wire fraud, securities fraud and insider trading. According to the superseding indictment and the plea agreement, Hirko participated in Enron's annual analyst conference in Houston at which Enron introduced EBS as one of its 'core' units. Enron also announced the development of a broadband operating system or 'BOS.' According to the plea agreement, the BOS was purported to be an 'intelligent' operating system and was described as, among other things, a standard protocol for accessing real-time bandwidth.

"As alleged in the superseding indictment, Enron issued a press release on May 15, 2000, announcing the acquisition of Warpspeed Communications. According to Hirko's guilty plea, the Warpspeed release falsely represented the status of the BOS and implied that it was already embedded and functioning as a part of Enron's network. Specifically, the Warpspeed release stated that the BOS 'allows application developers to dynamically provision bandwidth on demand for the end-to-end quality of service necessary to deliver broadband content."

The release continued: "According to the plea agreement, Hirko's approval of the Warpspeed release, as well as other press releases, assisted in maintaining Enron's overall stock price, thereby improperly maintaining the value of Hirko's holdings of Enron stock."


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