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Judge Seeks Testimony for Sentencing of Ex-Dynegy Exec

January 05, 2006|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — A judge who sentenced a former executive at energy company Dynegy Inc. to 24 years in prison, only to have the sentence thrown out by an appeals panel, said Wednesday that he would allow experts to hash out how long the executive should remain behind bars.

A day before he was to resentence Jamie Olis, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake called a surprise hearing to tell Olis' lawyers and prosecutors that he wanted to hear expert testimony first. Olis' two co-conspirators will be sentenced today, but Olis will wait until later this month, Lake said.

Olis, 40, was at a federal detention center in downtown Houston on Wednesday awaiting his resentencing. He attended the hearing in a green prison jumpsuit, visibly thinner than he was when a jury convicted him of fraud and conspiracy in 2003.

The former accountant and lawyer had the stiffest white-collar prison sentence in recent corporate scandals until July, when former WorldCom Inc. chief Bernard J. Ebbers was given a 25-year term for overseeing a $11-billion accounting fraud.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in October upheld Olis' convictions for his role in a scheme to disguise debt as cash flow, dubbed Project Alpha. But the panel overturned Olis' sentence imposed in March 2004, saying Lake improperly applied federal sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors said in court filings that they wanted Olis to serve at least 15 years.

Olis' attorney, David Gerger, said a sentence exceeding five years was not necessary, while less would be sufficient.

Two other former Dynegy executives charged in the scheme -- Olis' boss, Gene Foster, and in-house accountant Helen Sharkey -- are to be sentenced today. Both pleaded guilty in 2003.

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