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Several Top Fraud Prosecutors Join Team; Prosecutor Sam Buell To Depart

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that Leslie R. Caldwell, the director of the Justice Department’s specially formed Enron Task Force, will step down to pursue other opportunities after a brief transition. Andrew Weissmann, Deputy Director of the Task Force since its inception more than two years ago, succeeds Caldwell as Director of the Task Force as the investigation continues.

The changes are among several to the Task Force in recent months, including the hiring of experienced fraud prosecutors from U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Virginia, San Francisco, Boston, Brooklyn and the District of Columbia, and from the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Criminal Division. Most recently, the Task Force added to its ranks: John Hueston, who had been Chief of the Orange County Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and will join those assigned to ongoing investigative matters; and Sean Berkowitz, who was a Chief in the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, assigned to the team that will try the case against former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling and former Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey.

Caldwell, formerly Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, was chosen to head the Task Force in January 2002. Prior to joining the Task Force, Caldwell led a nationally recognized initiative against corporate fraud in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Before that, she was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where she prosecuted cases of securities fraud and violent crime.

“The Enron Task Force has been extremely effective in bringing to justice those responsible for perhaps the most notorious corporate scandal in U.S. history,” said Assistant Attorney General Wray. “Since the Task Force’s creation, Leslie Caldwell has shown exemplary leadership and has guided her team brilliantly, keeping them focused and moving forward in a relentless and methodical way, despite an extremely complex case and at times in the face of tremendous public and media pressure. I congratulate her on all her hard work, for which she and the American public can be grateful.”

The Enron Task Force, formed in the weeks following Enron’s bankruptcy in December 2001, is a group of federal prosecutors, FBI agents and IRS agents assigned to investigate the company’s collapse. The Task Force has brought charges against 28 individuals to date, including Enron’s former Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey, Treasurer Ben Glisan, and other high- and mid-level Enron executives. To date, nine of those individuals have pleaded guilty, including Fastow, Glisan and Finance Managing Director Michael Kopper, as well as David Duncan, the lead Arthur Andersen partner assigned to the Enron engagement. In addition, the Task Force has restrained more than $140 million in proceeds derived by the defendants from criminal activity. In June 2002, the Task Force obtained the conviction of Arthur Andersen for obstruction of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enron investigation, and in 2003 reached deferred prosecution agreements with Merrill Lynch & Co., and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

In naming Weissmann, who came to the Task Force from his position as Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, to succeed Caldwell, Wray noted: “The future of the Enron Task Force is in good hands. Andrew Weissmann has played a central role in this investigation from the outset, and he is an excellent choice to lead the Task Force’s work forward.”

Weissmann served as lead counsel in the Andersen prosecution and led the investigation into Fastow, Glisan and executives at Merrill Lynch. “Andrew’s judgment and courtroom experience will prove invaluable as remaining investigative avenues are pursued and the Enron-related cases come to trial. I am confident that, under Andrew’s leadership, the Task Force will successfully complete its mission of bringing to justice all those who were criminally responsible for Enron’s collapse,” Wray said.

Other recent hirings by the Task Force, in addition to Hueston and Berkowitz, include: John Hemann, a member of the Securities Fraud Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California, where he tried a number of accounting fraud cases; David Hennessy, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Massachusetts; Linda Lacewell, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who has prosecuted high-profile securities fraud and organized crime cases; Patrick Murphy, a trial attorney with the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Department of Justice; and Kathryn Ruemmler, an Assistant U.S. Attorney from the District of Columbia.

In addition, prosecutor Matthew Friedrich, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia who served as one of the trial attorneys on the Arthur Andersen prosecution, has rejoined the Task Force. Sangita Rao, an attorney in the Criminal Appellate Section at the Department of Justice who worked on the Andersen prosecution team, has also rejoined the Task Force.

“Our hiring of these talented and experienced prosecutors reflects the Department’s ongoing commitment to the progress and continued success of the Enron Task Force,” Wray said of the new additions to the team.

Prosecutor Samuel Buell, who served as a trial attorney on the Arthur Andersen case and coordinated the investigation of former CEO Jeff Skilling, will return to his position as a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. Wray thanked Buell for his work. “Sam Buell has been a great asset to the Task Force, and his tenacious work has yielded tremendous results,” Wray said. “He will be sorely missed.”