Houston to Host Enron Criminal Trials

The top bosses from disgraced Enron Corp. (search) will all be tried on criminal charges in Houston, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Sim Lake turns aside arguments from founder Kenneth Lay (search), former chief executive officer Jeff Skilling (search) and former top accountant Richard Causey (search) that they couldn't get a fair trial on their home turf because of publicity.

"Although news coverage about Enron's collapse, this case, and these defendants has been extensive, the court is not persuaded that it has been so inflammatory or pervasive as to create a presumption that there exists a reasonable likelihood that pretrial publicity will prevent a fair trial," Lake wrote in a 24-page opinion.

Lay, Skilling and Causey are all accused of multiple counts of fraud and other charges, alleging they participated in or knew about various schemes to fool investors into believing Enron was healthy in the years leading to its collapse.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for the trio had contended widespread media coverage of Enron's collapse made it difficult to find unbiased jurors in the Houston area to hear the case.

Prosecutors responded that two Houston-area juries already had considered Enron-related cases and returned reasonable verdicts.