I came up with this after you posted on the COW -- what if you copied the preferences folder or file to your machine from the network? It's worth a shot.
Your issue are not the AE prefs, your issue are group policies that point to remote user folders. I'm afraid you can't fix it without admin access to your machine to change those policy settings again.
Did you solve your issue yet? Did our experts' responses assist you?
Thanks so much!