John Forney, 42, of Ohio, is the third Enron official to plead guilty to manipulating electricity prices from Enron's now-defunct trading office in Portland, Ore. The crisis played a role in Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s bankruptcy and will leave California consumers paying abnormally high electricity prices for years.
"With the guilty plea of John Forney, we have now obtained convictions of the top three Enron executives most directly responsible for manipulating the energy markets in California at a time unique in our history, when the lights were going off and the grid was in danger of shutting down," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said.
Forney, the manager of Enron's trading desk, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud -- specifically, that he promised to supply energy Enron did not have and that he improperly collected electrical grid management fees for Enron.
Enron's scheme to charge fees for services it did not provide was known inside the company as "Forney's Perpetual Loop," the indictment said.
Forney also took part in other schemes -- known within Enron as "Death Star," "Get Shorty," "Ricochet" and others -- that had the affect of inflating consumer prices.
Prosecutors also accuse Forney of concocting a scheme that involved buying energy from California and later selling it back to the state at inflated prices, making it appear the energy was generated elsewhere.
Okay, here's the part I don't get: "He faces a maximum of five years."
Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing, the average drug offender sentence is 66 months. That average is six months more than the maximum sentence that may be imposed upon Forney, who is responsible for cheating Californians out of $45 billion.
Somehow having some marijuana or even cocaine doesn't seem worse than stealing $45 billion from Grandma Millie. But that's what you get when the right-wing reflex of mandatory minimum sentencing meets its perverse preferentiality for white-collar crime.