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Charities weigh tainted donations

Associated Press

Some Houston charities are in a sticky situation over $63,000 donated to them from a former Enron Corp. executive's family charitable foundation.

The federal government contends that the money from former Enron chief financial officer Andrew S. Fastow's nonprofit foundation was obtained illegally through partnership schemes.

While the government has not asked the charities to return the cash, the organizations face an ethical dilemma of what to do with donations considered tainted.

"We have never been in this situation before, and it is something our board will have to look at," John Havard, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, told the Houston Chronicle in Friday's issue.

The Fastow Family Foundation gave $5,000 to the local Boys & Girls Club in 2000, according to state records. The money helped build three new club buildings across the city.

The foundation, which lists Andrew Fastow as president and treasurer, gave at least $58,000 more in the same year, including $25,000 to the Menil Collection of art, $10,000 to the United Way of Greater Houston and $9,600 to Congregation Brith Shalom, one of two Houston synagogues with which Fastow has affiliated.

The foundation earned $4.5 million in the same year on a $25,000 investment in an Enron-related partnership that Fastow designed.

The federal government plans to seize that money, along with millions more in other accounts.

On Wednesday, former Fastow aide Michael J. Kopper, 37, pleaded guilty to defrauding Enron and its shareholders by scheming with Fastow through a series of complex partnerships -- including the one that provided almost all of the capital for Fastow's foundation.

Fastow has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing at Enron, the giant Houston-based energy company that went bankrupt last December.

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