HOUSTON –– A federal judge has postponed the sentencing of Arthur Andersen LLP's former top Enron Corp. auditor for the third time.
David Duncan, who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in April for instructing his Enron audit staff to destroy unneeded documents before the energy giant failed last year, will now be sentenced on May 16, rather than Jan. 3.
Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon to postpone the sentencing so they could continue interviewing Duncan as their investigation into Enron and Andersen continues. Duncan's cooperation is a condition of his plea deal.
Duncan had previously been scheduled to be sentenced in August and then October before the January date was set.
Duncan's plea was the first to emerge from the Justice Department's investigation of Enron's collapse and Andersen's role in it. Andersen was convicted in June of obstruction after a six-week trial that included 72 hours of jury deliberations spread over 10 days.
Duncan testified for nearly a week in the June trial of Andersen that culminated with the firm being convicted of obstruction. He said that in late October 2001, he told the Enron audit team to comply with a little-known policy to destroy extraneous paper and computer audit records that were unnecessary to support the final audit.
Earlier that month Nancy Temple, an in-house Andersen lawyer at the firm's Chicago headquarters, sent an e-mail to Houston encouraging that the staff be reminded to comply with the policy.
And several days before Duncan gave the instruction, Andersen learned that the Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into Enron's finances.
No one else at Andersen has been charged with any crimes.
Andersen, once a $4 billion operation with 85,000 workers worldwide, now has fewer than 1,000 workers left on the payroll and stopped auditing in August.