Heart of the Defense

It's coincidental, if not ironic, that Kenneth L. Lay should die of a heart attack.

Several weeks into his trial on federal fraud charges, in March, defense lawyer Michael W. Ramsey said he believed he had suffered a small heart attack in court after shouting at a government witness, former Enron chief finance officer, Andrew S. Fastow.

In late March, Ramsey had a stent placed in his heart to open clogged blood flow. He quickly developed problems with the stent and had to head back to the hospital for further help. Days later, he had a second stent implanted -- this one in his carotid artery. Ramsey never returned to the trial, leaving Lay's crucial testimony in the hands of back-up lawyer George "Mac" Secrest.

Lay bullied Secrest from the witness stand, at one point saying, "I'm not sure where you're going with this" line of questioning. It was Lay's decision, however, not to seek a delay in the trial to await Ramsey's recuperation. It seems he was determined just to bulldoze his way through the unpleasantness, regardless of the outcome.

In some ways, it reminds me of the aged and terminally ill. When the end is inevitable, and painful, the course of action toward that end becomes increasingly irrelevant.

By Frank Ahrens |  July 5, 2006; 4:58 PM ET  | Category:  Dispatches
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Did this convicted felon have any previous heart problems on record, apart from no heart for Enron employees and shareholders? Any health problems in evidence at all? How were his last days spent, apart from going to church in Houston. Did he fly commercial to Aspen, or did he still have access to private jet-abouts? Who is doing the autopsy to determine if his "heart attack" was from natural causes or chemically induced?

Posted by: LSH | July 5, 2006 05:46 PM


So what happens now? As I understand it, Ken Lay's conviction will be dismissed since he died before he was sentenced. What does this do to the government's attempts to seize all of Lay's remaining assets? Obviously, they can't get a restitution order as a part of his sentence. Will they have to start a new civil forfeiture action against his estate? Can they?

Posted by: Anon | July 5, 2006 08:56 PM

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