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Federal prosecutors broadened the indictment of a former Enron Corp. power trader Thursday, adding 10 counts of wire fraud and declaring that the case is headed for trial. With plea negotiations having broken down with former Enron executive John Forney, one arm of the federal government’s investigation into the once high-flying Houston energy company is coming to a head. U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins set an Oct. 12, 2004, trial date, with both sides saying they will stick to the date. “We’re going to trial,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Jacobs. Forney, 41, is the third former Enron executive charged in connection with an alleged scheme to manipulate the price of electricity during the California power crisis. A second team of prosecutors in Houston is investigating Enron’s finances and has indicted several former executives. Two others have pleaded guilty in the power trading investigation and are cooperating with the government. Forney was arrested in June and charged with one count of conspiracy. Prosecutors expanded and detailed the charges Thursday. The government alleges that as manager of Enron’s West Power Real Time trading desk, Forney oversaw several fraudulent schemes intended to manipulate the California power grid. One alleged scheme involved cycling power out of and back into the state to get credit for relieving congestion on the grid. The scheme, sometimes called “Death Star,” was also known as the “Forney Perpetual Loop,” prosecutors say. Jeffrey Richter, the former head of Enron’s Short-Term California trading desk, pleaded guilty in February. Timothy Belden, Enron’s former chief energy trader, pleaded guilty in October 2002. Jenkins scheduled a distant trial date to give the defense a chance to sift through volumes of documents related to the case. Jacobs said there are literally millions of documents involved in discovery, including 900 boxes of information related to Enron’s West Coast trading activities. Forney is represented by Rogers, Joseph, O’Donnell & Phillips’ Robert Breakstone, who said the government is trying to blame his client for California’s power crisis. Breakstone said Forney was actually a much lower-level employee than either Belden or Richter. “If he made $60,000 it was a lot of money,” Breakstone said. “He was a pipsqueak.” As part of his plea deal, Belden agreed to forfeit more than $2 million. Breakstone said that although there is a lot of discovery to sift through, it’s not a difficult case. “It’s not as complicated as the government would have you believe,” he said. “They want to bury us in documents.” The trial will get under way just weeks before the 2004 presidential election. Enron once boasted close ties to several prominent Republicans, including President Bush. But the president condemned the company after it was revealed to have used allegedly fraudulent bookkeeping to inflate its financial picture. Enron filed for bankruptcy two years ago this week.

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