A Tough Day for Ken and Jeff

As expected, federal prosecutors are blasting away at former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling as their corporate fraud and conspiracy trial ventures into closing arguments. The government attorney leading the charge so far, Kathy Ruemmler, is saying all the right things as she tries both to shore up the credibility of her own witnesses and shred into the defense offered by the two leaders of the failed company.

Best lines so far? The Houston Chronicle's fabulous online trial site (I gave you the link above) offered this from Ruemmler: "Why do you have to spin something if you are telling the truth? You don't. All of these documents tell us without a reasonable doubt" that losses were being hidden by Lay and Skilling. And this: "In this courtroom, the cover stories have been blown. You've heard the tricks, the real deal, not what the pretty documents said," referring to the well-designed charts displayed by defense teams for jurors. Ruemmler added: "They are trying to deceive you in this courtroom precisely like they tried to deceive the investors."

Ruemmler wisely is using as much written evidence as she can to support the testimony of the many cooperating witnesses who have helped prosecutors try to prove their case-- former Enron workers who have cut deals with the feds in exchange for their testimony. The more credible those witnesses seem the more likely it is that prosecutors will get convictions here. And she also is smart for hammering the defendants hard on the "common sense" angle because it's a strength of the government's case. It is counterintuitive to believe that these two brilliant and controlling men would have not known a lick of the complex fraud going on right under their noses.

Meanwhile, Ken Lay today posted this brief statement in which he says: "I failed to save the company that I helped build and loved. As I have said many times, I am devastated by this failure and its negative impact on so many lives. But failure does not equate to a crime." Look for that theme to prevail during the defense closes that will begin either late today or early tomorrow.

I'll post again this evening after the day's lawyering is done. So far, though, so good for prosecutors. They may not win but it won't be because they didn't offered a solid close.

By  |  May 15, 2006; 3:00 PM ET
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To Whom it May Concern,

I must say that I disagree with Cohen's article, "Feds Should Make Enron Close Short and Sweet." I disagree with Mr. Cohen's opinion because cases like these should not be hastened; they should be laid out and carefully dealt with, and be given all the time they need to settle the case. I am truly very sorry for all of those those who have chosen to invest in Enron, not knowing that they were losing their money, instead of making more.

Posted by: Mike | May 16, 2006 10:15 AM

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