Sunday, September 14, 2008


I recently read Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story about the corruption and eventual downfall of Enron. It was an excellent and interesting read, and I discovered there were a couple of Long Island connections with the largest collapse of a US company ever. The book portrays Andrew Fastow as the ultimate slimeball who figured out ways to make money by creating separate businesses that would interact with Enron in a way that made Enron look like it was making more money than it really was. Fastow was the head of some of these companies while also the CFO of Enron, a conflict of interest that was basically ignored by Wall Street analysts, banks, Enron executives and the Board of Directors. Fastow made millions - possibly $60 million - through these separate companies. Fastow and Michael Kopper come across as the real scammers in the Enron story, and it is sad to see they both struck deals with the government and received lesser sentences than they should have.

The Long Island connection to Enron? Kopper was born in Woodmere, and Cliff Baxter, an Enron exec described by the whistleblower Sherron Watkins as "one of the few good guys in this whole thing" came from Amityville. Baxter committed suicide as Enron fell apart and his funeral was at St. Martin of Tours - where this blogger was married. (BTW - this is a weird place to mention this, but St. Martin of Tours is one of the most beautiful Churches in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.)

This book (and dvd Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) reinforced what I have experienced in my life when it comes to corruption and evil - people are able to get away with almost anything when there is a culture of greed, looking the other way, egoism, shallowness, and fear. Enron was almost a textbook example of this - I would hope people would learn from its fall, but I know that most will not.

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