I cannot decide if the Enron Task Force (ETF) was more like the Mafia or a serial killer as it concocted its Enron Broadband Services (EBS) case. So I need your help to decide. Here are the arguments for each.
ETF was the Mafia
John Kroger, the arrogant and flawed prosecutor originally in charge of the EBS prosecution, makes the case for the ETF as the Mafia in his autobiographical book, Convictions. Kroger tells us that, when Enron went bankrupt, the Bush administration wanted “scalps quickly”. Rather than rely on experienced, but “too slow, too cautious”, and “gun-shy” white-collar prosecutors, the Department of Justice formed the Enron Task Force (ETF) and “deliberately” staffed it with “aggressive, tough, and decisive” Mafia prosecutors who had little, if any, white collar criminal law experience.
Unfortunately, these ETF Mafia prosecutors began to take on the personalities and tactics of their former prey as they went after “blood” among the Enron executives. Instead of relying on the “more than ten million documents” of evidence, John Kroger and the ETF decided to fabricate a case based “primarily on the testimony of witnesses.” In his book, Kroger describes, in frightening detail, many of the ETF’s strong-arm tactics as they tried to terrify and intimidate people, either into silence or into “cooperation” with the ETF. The FBI agents were the Mafia muscle of the ETF, visiting people’s homes with handguns under their jackets. Kroger with the Mafia Don, and the other ETF prosecutors were the Mafia enforcers, telling people that they needed protection (from the ETF, of course), and the only way to get it was to “cooperate” by naming others. These were classic Mafia tactics!
ETF was a Serial Killer
Once the trial began, a serial killer mentality seemed to emerge among the prosecutors of the ETF. I’m sure you have seen one of those films about a serial killer who sends notes to the police or a future victim by building the message out of letters cut from lots of different sources. If the message is “YOU ARE NEXT!”, the serial killer cuts the “Y” from a magazine article, the “O” from a newspaper, the “U” from an advertisement, etc., pasting these onto a sheet of paper to create his message. Well, guess what … that serial killer message creation process describes the ETF’s case during the EBS trial perfectly!
As best I can tell from months of pouring over the EBS trial transcript, the ETF prosecutors had no coherent evidence of any crimes among the EBS defendants. To manufacture a narrative, the prosecutors selected a sentence from an email in 1999, a couple phrases from a video in 2000 that was never shown to anyone, a few words from an unrelated presentation in 2001, etc. Then the ETF prosecutors tried to paste these unrelated excerpts together, out of context, to fabricate a message to present to the jury. This was classic serial killer behavior!
So which behavior do you think best describes the ETF mindset during the EBS investigation and trial?