The convictions of former Enron Corp. chairman Kenneth Lay and former president Jeffrey Skilling decimated their high-stakes argument that Enron was a law-abiding company done in by newspaper reports, short-sellers and market panic. The jury's decision cemented the once-highflying energy company's legacy as one of the most egregious corporate offenders of the 1990s.
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After delivering their verdicts, the Enron jurors said they had focused partly on the credibility of the two former executives. In a risky legal strategy, both men had argued that no crimes were committed at Enron, apart from a few largely irrelevant ones involving former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow. Messrs. Lay and Skilling both testified during the trial, and both faced withering cross-examinations by prosecutors.
Judge Sim Lake read the string of guilty verdicts in a packed courtroom. Both defendants stood calmly as family members gasped and some began to sob.
Mr. Skilling, 52 years old, was convicted on 19 of 28 counts of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. He was acquitted on nine counts of insider trading. Mr. Lay, 64, was convicted on all six conspiracy and fraud counts he faced. After reading the jury verdicts, Judge Lake also found Mr. Lay guilty of all four counts in a separate banking-fraud case heard by the judge while the jury was deliberating.
After the verdicts were announced, Mr. Lay joined more than a dozen friends and family members in a circle in one corner of the courtroom to pray. One of Mr. Lay's supporters, Rev. Bill Lawson, could be heard invoking the story of Jesus, "who was convicted and even executed," he said.