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Ken Lay lawyer begins process to erase Enron founder's criminal record

[JURIST] An attorney for former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay [Houston Chronicle profile; JURIST news archive] has indicated that he intends to ask a federal court to vacate Lay's criminal convictions and dismiss the indictment in the case. Lawyer Samuel Buffone filed a motion in federal court Wednesday to supplant Lay's name in court records with Lay's estate, clearing the way for the lawyer to appear on Lay's behalf. Lay, who died in July [JURIST report], was convicted of six counts of fraud and conspiracy [JURIST report] in May. Lay's co-defendant Jeffery Skilling [Houston Chronicle profile] was convicted of 19 securities fraud, conspiracy, and insider trading counts, and will be sentenced on October 23.

As Lay died before his sentencing date and he was not afforded an opportunity to exhaust the appeals process, no final judgment was issued in the case. Without a final judgment entered against Lay, the court is expected to dismiss the indictment and the conviction, because Lay's death renders the case moot. Federal agents did not seize any of Lay's assets under a forfeiture order [motion text, PDF] that was filed days before Lay's death [Washington Post report], and if the court dismisses the conviction, the federal government will have no means of seizing property controlled by the Lay estate to compensate victims of the Enron collapse. Instead, victims will have to pursue civil remedies against Lay [JURIST report] in order to recover money lost when Enron [JURIST news archive] declared bankruptcy in 2001. The Houston Chronicle has local coverage.

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