Risk Management

Prosecutors Drop Fight to Convict Lay

But two senators introduce legislation to make sure that a conviction wouldn't be vacated if the defendant died after being convicted of a federal ...
Stephen TaubNovember 21, 2006

Federal prosecutors have chosen to abandon their appeal of U.S. District Judge Sim Lake’s ruling last month vacating fraud and conspiracy charges against the late Kenneth Lay for his role in Enron’s collapse, according to the Associated Press.

The judge said the death of Lay, the founder of the ill-starred energy corporation, earlier this year vacated his conviction because Lay couldn’t challenge it, the news service reported.

Prosecutors last week asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Lake’s ruling, the AP added. Lay, who was convicted of 10 counts of fraud, conspiracy and lying to banks in two separate cases on May 25, died of heart disease July 5.

Last week, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, introduced a bill that would make sure that a conviction wouldn’t be vacated if a defendant died after being convicted of a federal offense. Instead, the court would reportedly be directed to state that the defendant was convicted (either by a guilty plea or a verdict finding him guilty) but then died before the case or appeal was final.

“We need to ensure that, in these types of cases, hard-won convictions are preserved and restitution remains available for the victims of crime,” said Feinstein.