Why Skilling and Lay Were Convicted
Thanks to the candor of several jurors who spoke only moments after reaching their verdict in the huge fraud and conspiracy trial of former Enron executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, we now have a decent sense of why the two men were convicted of virtuall all of the charges against them in federal court in Houston.
It is not complicated. Several jurors said that they were impressed with and believed the testimony of two former Enron officials, Ben Glisan and Mark Koenig, both of whom pleaded guilty to Enron-related charges of their own and turn state's evidence against their bosses. Glison told jurors that Lay knew about massive problems at Enron and chose to ignore the news. Koenig told jurors that as investor relations chief for Enron he routinely lied about the company's financial health. Neither man's testimony, alone, would have been enough to convict Lay and Skilling. Together, though, their testimony helped weave together a narrative that doomed the defendants.
What also did in Lay and Skilling was their failure to gain any credibility or believability with the jury. One juror told the media that she really "wanted" to believe the two defendants when they testified, under oath, for days on end, but that she simply couldn't. Another said that she believed that the two men had a duty to know what was going on inside their company. They were too smart not to know, the juror said.
This was the big gamble of the whole trial-- whether the decision by the defendants to testify in their own behalf would reap them any benefits with the jury. We now know for sure that the gamble did not pay off. Either Lay and Skilling did not sell their innocence well enough or they did not have enough innocence to sell, even to a group of folks who might have been receptive to it. So don't look for grand conspiracy theories in trying to figure out how this result occured. The jury believed the prosecution's witnesses and didn't believe the defendants. It's not much more complicated than that.
Also, because I read everything you guys write, I have to respond to the post that suggested that these guys won't serve much prison time, if any. Unless today's convictions are reversed on appeal, both men are likely to spend the better part of the rest of their lives in a federal penitentiary. On that you can make book.
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