Thursday, May 25, 2006

 

Enron Executives Found Guilty

Jury Convicts Enron's Skilling and Lay

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006; 2:24 PM

HOUSTON, May 25 -- A federal jury today convicted former Enron chairman Kenneth L. Lay of each of the six counts with which he was charged and convicted his protege Jeffrey K. Skilling of 19 of 28 counts, holding the top executives accountable for fraud on their watch.

The jury returned to the courtroom after deliberating for fewer than six days over a trial that took almost four months, avoiding eye contact with the two defendants and their families. After the verdicts were read, U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III also found Lay guilty in a separate case of four counts of bank fraud.

Lake set sentencing for both men for Sept. 11.

As the verdict was read, Lay stood in the front of the courtroom near a bench he had occupied along with his wife, Linda, and daughter, Elizabeth Vittor, both of whom began to weep. Other family members sat in the front row among the spectators in the courtroom.

Skilling was impassive. He held his hands pressed together in front of him. After the verdict, he exchanged words with brother, Mark, and his defense attorney, Daniel Petrocelli. Skilling was the first man out of the courtroom, immediately after the judge left the bench.

After the verdict, Lake said that Lay would be required to relinquish his passport and he set a bond hearing for later in the afternoon for Lay. Skilling is already free on a $5 million bond.

Skilling and Petrocelli appeared at microphones set up on the courthouse steps just minutes after the verdict was read, saying they would offer a "full and vigorous" appeal.

"We have just begun to fight," he said, standing beside his client who appeared composed as he thanked his family, his lawyers and the news media for their conduct during the trial.

Skilling, 52, and Lay, 64, once stood near the pinnacle of American business, as the energy trading powerhouse they created out of a stodgy pipeline company grew to become the nation's seventh largest public company. But their fortunes collapsed in a heap along with the business in December 2001.

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