A U.S. district judge granted Enron Corp. founder and former chief executive Kenneth Lay part of his request to sever his trial from two other former Enron execs, with the result that Lay will get two criminal trials, rather than the one speedy trial for which he had he hoped.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake ruled this week that Lay, who had requested that he be tried separately from ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling and former chief accounting officer Richard Causey, would be tried separately on four counts of bank fraud and lying to banks, according to published reports.
However, Lake reportedly ruled that Lay, who faces seven counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, would be tried with Skilling and Causey on those counts. Skilling and Causey each face more than 30 counts that include conspiracy, insider trading, fraud and lying to auditors. All three have pleaded innocent.
A federal indictment unsealed in July alleged that Lay, Skilling and Causey manipulated Enron's reported financial results, lied about the company's financial performance and, as a result, lined their own pockets through salaries, bonuses, grants of stock and stock options and other profits.
Lay had offered to skip a jury to get a speedy trial. In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post in early September, he publicly pled his case for having his trial separated from those of Skilling and Causey.
"The other two men have not asked for a speedy trial or offered to forgo discovery or waive a jury trial. Only three of the 11 charges against me overlap with the 45 charges against them," Lay wrote. "The Enron-related charges against me cover only a 47-day period just before Enron's collapse, while charges against the other two cover a two-year period beginning in 1999. Moreover, four of the 11 charges against me had nothing to do with Enron; they deal with an obscure 1934 banking regulation (known as 'Reg U') that, as far as my lawyers can determine, has been used only once previously as the basis for a criminal charge."
Lake has yet to schedule the trials, according to reports.
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