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Ex-Williams Energy Trader Pleads Guilty

December 18, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Thomas J. Pool, a former energy trader at Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams Cos., pleaded guilty to manipulating natural gas prices as part of a U.S. probe into price gouging during California's energy crisis in 2000 and 2001.

During a federal court hearing Friday in San Francisco, Pool said he submitted false gas price information to Inside FERC Gas Market Report, a power industry publication, while working at Williams.

The U.S. is investigating whether traders inflated prices during California's energy crisis by providing phony data to industry journals. Williams paid a $20-million fine to settle federal allegations that it tried to manipulate natural gas indexes and reached a $417-million settlement with California in 2003.

"This plea, the admission by a natural gas trader of actual price manipulation, is the first of its kind," said U.S. Atty. Kevin Ryan.

Pool pleaded guilty to one count of manipulating the price of a commodity.

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