HOUSTON – Family and friends, including co-defendant Jeffrey Skilling, will attend private memorial services for Kenneth Lay in Houston and in Aspen, Colo., where the Enron Corp. founder died suddenly on Wednesday awaiting sentencing for his role in one of the biggest business debacles ever.
The 64-year-old executive faced spending decades in prison after he was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges earlier this year by a federal jury in Houston.
A small, private memorial service is set for Sunday afternoon at the Aspen Chapel just outside the northern city limits of Aspen, family spokeswoman Kelly Kimberly said in a statement. Lay died in the glitzy western Colorado ski resort town where he and his wife, Linda, were vacationing. A coroner said an autopsy showed severe coronary artery disease caused Lay's death.
A second memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in downtown Houston.
"The Lay family asks that their privacy be respected as they mourn the loss of their husband, father, grandfather and brother," Kimberly's statement said.
Kimberly added Friday that attendance at both services will be restricted to friends and family. Reporters will not be allowed to attend.
Skilling, the former Enron CEO, planned to attend both services with his wife, Rebecca Carter, said Skilling's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli.
"Jeff and Rebecca will be attending both, as will I," Petrocelli said.
Rebecca Carter was a corporate secretary at Enron before she married Skilling.
Lay died just six weeks after he and Skilling, 52, were convicted in May of defrauding Enron investors and employees through repeated lies about the company's financial health before the energy company crumbled into bankruptcy protection in December 2001.
Both men were to be sentenced Oct. 23, and faced decades in prison. That sentencing date — and the prospect of lengthy prison time — still stands for Skilling.
Lay's death allows his lawyers to ask the court to vacate his conviction for fraud and conspiracy in the scandal that left thousands jobless and wiped out billions from investors. That would thwart the government's bid to seize $43.5 million from Lay, but his assets could still be targeted in civil litigation from shareholders and others.
The former corporate celebrity maintained that he was innocent of fraud and conspiracy in the scandal.
Lay's lengthy paid obituary, published Friday in the Houston Chronicle, said he and Linda would have recognized their 24th wedding anniversary Monday. Lay is survived by his wife, two children, three stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and two sisters.