Enron Update

Well, it looks like Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling’s defense teams are having a tough time of it.

Lawyers for Enron’s former chairman Ken Lay and CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who are set for trial in January, face an unusual challenge: About 90 former Enron executives are labeled “unindicted co-conspirators.”

Most of them don’t even know they’re in this legal limbo. But defense lawyers told the trial judge last week that the situation is making it nearly impossible to find people willing to testify for the defense.

An unindicted co-conspirator is someone prosecutors think was involved in a crime but who hasn’t been charged in the case.

This isn’t the only challenge for Enron defense lawyers. The company’s collapse in 2001 still haunts Houston, where the trial will be held. Thousands of layoffs were direct or indirect results of Enron’s crash. Pensions of many local retirees were wiped out. Lingering anger toward the company could affect the jury pool.

Nearly four years after launching their fraud investigation of Enron, and after the prosecution of more than 30 individuals, prosecutors still have a grand jury impaneled that could indict additional people.

Defense lawyers say the grand jury’s continued existence has frightened witnesses who might otherwise help exonerate Lay, Skilling and a third defendant, ex-chief accounting officer Rick Causey.

I particularly like the comment how it is unusual for a case to have this many unindicted co-conspirators outside of Mafia and drug cases. Seems about right to me considering the sheer massiveness of the fraud that was perpetrated.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.