The Fate of Enron's Former Executives

The government bore down on Enron Corp. as it would the Mafia, intimidating top lieutenants into pointing fingers at their bosses because someone had to pay for crimes that preceded the company's stunning collapse, the lawyer for former Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling said Tuesday. Read more.

If YOU were on the jury, would you convict Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay?

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Here's what people in the news are saying:

"Today you decide if Ken Lay is locked in a cage for the rest of his life. Today you decide if Ken Lay is a criminal. Today you decide if Ken Lay committed any crimes." — Lay lawyer Bruce Collins

"This was all manufactured after the fact. Because it's Enron. After all, somebody has to pay. It's Enron." — Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli

"Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay had a choice. They could come clean and tell the truth about Enron's financial condition — or they could lie to cover it up. They chose to lie." — Prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler

Check out what FOX Fans are saying:

”Yes, based on the evidence presented I would vote to convict them both. In their positions, it was their responsibility to ensure no financial misdeeds took place. However, the evidence demonstrated that they did not heed those responsibilities, but instead participated and even directed some of the severe irregularities. They plundered the life savings of thousands of employees, and they fed an environment of entitlement over responsibility.” — Kelly

"From all the info I have heard and read about on Skilling and Lay, I am persuaded to believe their entire motivation in life was greed. If I were on a jury, they would be penalized to the maximum and forced to give back millions to the Enron workers who were left without of pensions.” — William (Texas)

”I believe that all their personal assets (including any family assets in their wives, children, or parents’ names) should be taken away and distributed to those who lost so much. Then, I think they should have to work in some menial job and contribute all their pay to the people who lost. They should live, not in a prison with food and medical care provided, but in a hovel without electricity or running water. They should get their medical care at a clinic for the indigent.” — D. C. (Houston, TX)

“To say that advisors or accountants and lawyers do not have responsibility in the final course of the ones they advise is simply ludicrous. These advisors stand to gain, just as their clients do, in the decisions they assist in making. They, therefore, should stand the blame for the decisions they advise or fail to advise.” — Peter (Florida)

“I would absolutely convict both of them and would give them the maximum sentences possible. What they did to those employees at Enron is unbelievable! It was done for their own greed and personal gain. Lock them up and throw the keys away!” — Jeff (North Little Rock, AR)

“You bet I'd convict them. If they didn't know the facts about the company then they should have not have been collecting the big bucks. Put them away forever and let others know investors aren't going to take it any longer.” — Merle

“Absolutely. White-collar crime often goes unpunished, and it’s about time the greedy thieves pay the price of their crimes.” — Richard

"Only the jury has heard all of the testimony and has been shown the evidence to determine guilt or innocence. However, if found guilty, they should lose everything and spend the next 20-plus years, if not the rest of their lives, in prison for their theft, deception and the destruction of their employee's lives. An example needs to go out to corporate America's executives that business as usual is coming to an end. The greed that has taken over the business world at the expense of legitimate companies, corporations and people's lives has got to be stopped.” — Mike (Rockford, IL)

”Absolutely, I would vote for conviction. If they didn't know what was going on (which I doubt), then they should have. They were either willing co-conspirators or they were criminally negligent. Either way, as executives they were responsible. The message must be sent to the rest of the corporate community that playing fast and loose with the management of the publics money will not be tolerated.” — John

”Yes, I would convict them and give them both life terms.” — Ann

“Yes, and they should use personal money to pay restitution.” — Yvonne (Raleigh, NC)

”Everything I have heard about the evidence would prompt me to convict them both. Skilling's claim that he sold $70 million in stock to pay some debts that suddenly came due, indicates that he is a very poor financial manager who was ignorant of his company's fiscal condition right to the very end. I don't believe it. Ken Lay appears to have been no better at his job than Skilling. I don't suppose being utterly incompetent is illegal, but I don't believe their use of that defense.” — Cullon (Albuquerque, NM)

”I have not been on the jury, so I can’t make a judgment about their guilt or innocence. If I had to deliver a verdict, it could only be based upon the trial presented in the press, in which case they are both guilty.” — Bill

”I think they should pay for all the lives they ruined. It is a disgrace that people like them get by everyday, considering the crime they do. The employees lost everything, while they are living the high life. They should be made to pay all the money they took, plus years behind bars.” — Mary

”Lay and Skilling started the decay and degradation of corporate America. They both should go to the ‘big house’ for a long, long time!” — R.H. (Knightdale, NC)

”They are guilty and they should have to divest themselves of all those millions they hid and came away with to repay their debt. They need to go to prison for a very, very long time. This would send a strong message to others who are overcome with corporate greed and power. Skilling and Lay left millions of innocent investors in the dirt. They took away pensions from millions who were counting on their retirement. That is worse than armed robbery because they didn't need a gun…they had the power.” — Jo Anne (Tempe, AZ)

“You bet I would convict these two thieves. They stole from thousands of investors, as well as cost the employees their jobs and future. Put them in jail for as long as the law allows.” — Bob (Florida)

"Since the proof came out that Skilling and Lay set up dummy companies to hide losses and make Enron look good to the investors, and that they knew that Enron would eventually fail, they should be found guilty. Since these actions were planned and deliberate to deceive the investors, and they used their insider information to profit at the expense of everyone else and these actions had such a huge negative economic impact on so many people, these two criminals should be sentenced to life in a maximum security prison, with no chance of parole. They should have cells right next to Moussaoui!" — Terry

"Lock them up and throw away the key. These two have ruined the lives of hundreds of former employees, while they have continued to lie about their own involvement to avoid financial and personal loss that they have caused for some many others. I hope they get what they deserve: a long prison term." — Walter (Oxford, AL)

"First I would strip them down to ZERO assets like they did to so many trusting souls. Then I would get a bucket of tar and a bag of feathers and deal with them the same way the snake oil salesman of the old West were dealt with. Tar and feather them, slide them on a poll, and parade them through New York City. But first they would need to write on the blackboard a million times, 'I will not screw another person on this planet ever again.'" — Bill

"These gentlemen are the very personification of avarice and greed. They care nothing about honor, honesty or anyone else. I think they should fry. GUILTY!" — Ginny

"Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay are both extremely intelligent men. For them to claim that they did not know what was happening is like claiming you can't remember your own birthday. Their defense angle is impossible to believe. — D.E.

"Both Lay and Skilling are guilty. I am a senior manager at a major corporation, and to believe that the CEO of a corporation was unaware of the magnitude of the financial scheming going on at Enron is not at all believable. — M.E.(Morrisville, NC)

"I would not trust Ken Lay or Jeffery Skilling to be toilet bowl cleaners in a public toilet in Liberia. All they know how to do is lie, cheat and steal from the shareholders and the employees of Enron. I say put them in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, along with the other criminals similar to the Teflon Don." — Dan

"Greed plus hubris equals a conviction in my book." — Bryan

"I don't know if they did anything criminal or not, but I would like to say that they certainly ride high when things are going good and take the credit for doing it. They should stand up and take credit for the problems we had as well, but that’s not what they are doing." — Ray

"I would convict them all in a heartbeat!" — Lou

While I am sure that Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling have to carry some responsibility for what has happened, I do not feel that the government has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that they are the guilty ones. It's a shame that the government let Fastow off the hook with 10 years. He should be the one on trial!" — Virginia (Conroe, TX)

"I would sentence them to working in coal mines for the rest of their lives. I would also send all the money that they'd make from their 12-hour day to the families of miners who died on the job." — Carol (Washington, DC)

"Yes, I do think they should be held accountable for the Enron debacle. They were the top guys and if they did not know what was going on (as they claim) they are doubly guilty. They should not have been running the company and doing a disservice to the shareholders." Somehow that alibi does not wash!" — R.V.

"Put them in jail. It’s very hard for anyone with common sense to believe that these two individuals did not know of the financial problems. They are guilty. The alternative to jail would be for them to work at McDonalds for life with no chance of promotion." — Gary (Fairborn, OH)

"I would vote guilty. Where were their ethics and morals? They are both prime examples of corporate greed." — Peggy (St. Joseph, MO)

"Oh yeah, these boys would be on their way to a room that doesn't give you any privacy." — John (Sturgis, SD)

"Not sure that it really matters in the end. They are crooks just like their Republican buddies in Washington. They just got caught. More than likely, they will not get what they deserve. I wouldn't doubt it if Bush is saving one of his final presidential pardons for his old pal Ken Lay." — Kip (Boston, MA)

"If I were on the jury, I would convict Skilling and Lay. As executives they got paid a heck of a lot of money and they should have known what was going on in the company." — Vickie (El Paso, TX)

"Not only would I convict them, but I would also sentence Lay and Skilling to be at the beckon call of all the families they cheated. They would be forced to pay back every one of their employees and then some." — Kate (Dallas, TX)