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July 06, 2006

Ken Lay Not Guilty?

Ken Lay's Death May Erase Conviction

HOUSTON The death of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay will likely cause his conviction to be erased from the record, experts said Thursday.

The 64-year-old executive's sudden death Wednesday from heart disease allows his lawyers to ask the court to vacate his conviction for fraud and conspiracy in Enron's scandal that left thousands jobless and wiped out billions from investors.


Roma Theus, vice chairman of the corporate integrity and white collar crime committee of the Chicago-based Defense Research Institute and a former federal prosecutor, said that because an appeal was pending, Lay's convictions are abated.

"The law views it as though he had never been indicted, tried and convicted," Theus said.

Without that, the government cannot continue its efforts to seize Lay's assets through criminal courts, he said.

David Berg, a Houston civil litigator, said all that's left is a bureaucratic process in which Lay's attorneys can file court papers, with Lay's death certificate, asking Lake to vacate the convictions. If Lake complies as expected, Lay would no longer be a felon.

"His lawyers will move to set aside the conviction, and it'll be done. The slate is wiped clean," Berg said.

Ken Lay died last week, sparing him from sentencing after having been convicted of securities fraud associated with the Enron scandal. When he emerged from the courthouse after having received this judgment, he said that he believes that God works all things for the good for those who believe in Him. He had faith that all of this was for the good where he was concerned. All of the events are fitting within the realm of his statement. I'll bet that really ticks a lot of people off.

There are many different kinds of immoral and unfair prejudice. There's racial prejudice that says, "The defendant is black, therefore he's probably guilty." There's sexual preference prejudice that says, "This homosexual won't be as good of a soldier or policeman as the rest of us." There's sexist prejudice that tells an employer, "If I hire one woman, I'm okay, but if I hire two I become a full time referee." There's even prejudice against politicians which says, "All politicians are dishonest." But the most despicable prejudice of all is the prejudice against the good for being the good, the successful for being successful, the business man who does well.

Most of the fury against Ken Lay comes from this last source: he's rich, therefore he must have screwed over people in order to become wealthy. As with the black defendant, he might very well be guilty, but that's not the point; what matters to me as I write this post are the predispositions of those who judge them. Whether the issue of erasing Lay's conviction is wrong or not depends upon the details of the case. But whether that cloud is dark or not, it certainly has a silver lining: those whose internal motivation for seeing him as guilty is dominated by prejudice against the rich will not be happy. And they deserve not to be.

Posted by Jeff at July 6, 2006 04:17 PM


Ken Lay is not dead. He is likely living like a king in some country thanks to the Bush regime.

Posted by: Gregg at May 17, 2007 06:24 AM

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