The following are key facts about the two defendants:
KENNETH LEE LAY
—Born April 15, 1942, in Tyrone, Missouri, son of a poor Baptist minister.
—Joined the U.S. Federal Power Commission after earning doctorate degree in economics. Served for about a year as deputy undersecretary of energy for the Department of Interior after 1972 appointment.
—Became chief executive and chairman of merged Houston Natural Gas-InterNorth company in 1986. Company changed its name to Enron Corp.
—Was a major fundraiser for George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, and became a friend to the former president and his son President George W. Bush.
—Handed Enron CEO position over to Jeffrey Skilling in February 2001, but retook position in August after Skilling resigned the post. Indicted in July 2004 for acts undertaken during the period between resuming the CEO role and Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001.
—Sold more than $300 million in Enron stock between 1989 and 2001.
JEFFREY KEITH SKILLING
—Born November 25, 1953, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
—Joined prestigious consultancy McKinsey & Co. after graduating in the top 5 percent of his Harvard Business School class in 1979.
—Joined Enron in 1990 to help create natural gas trading systems that became a core company business. Hired Andrew Fastow, who later became Enron's chief financial officer and designed the off-balance sheet partnerships used to hide debt and pump up profits.
—Resigned as Enron CEO after only about six months in the post as company stock price struggled and his personal life pressures mounted.
—Indicted in February 2004 for conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. Two months later, he was taken into custody in New York City while inebriated and thought to be an "emotionally disturbed person" after accusing strangers of being FBI agents.
—Sold Enron shares worth nearly $63 million in 2000 and 2001.