Archive for Wednesday, July 5, 2006

NATIONAL: Enron founder Kenneth Lay dies

July 5, 2006


Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, who was convicted of helping perpetuate one of the most sprawling business frauds in U.S. history, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Colorado. He was 64.

The Pitkin, Colo., Sheriff's Department said officers were called to Lay's house in Old Snowmass, Colo., shortly after 1 a.m. Mountain time. He was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:11 a.m. Lay, who lived in Houston, frequently vacationed in Colorado.

Family spokeswoman Kelly L. Kimberly issued a statement saying, "Ken Lay passed away early this morning in Aspen. The Lays have a very large family with whom they need to communicate. And out of respect for the family, we will release further details at a later time."

Pastor Steve Wende of First United Methodist Church of Houston, said in a statement that church member Lay died unexpectedly of a "massive coronary."

Wende said Lay and his wife, Linda, were in Colorado for the week "and his death was totally unexpected. Apparently, his heart simply gave out."

Lay was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 23. He faced decades in prison.

Lay led Enron's meteoric rise from a staid natural gas pipeline company formed by a 1985 merger to an energy and trading conglomerate that reached No. 7 on the Fortune 500 in 2000 and claimed $101 billion in annual revenues. He traveled in the highest business and political circles.

For many years, his corporation was the single biggest contributor to President Bush, who nicknamed him "Kenny Boy."

Lay was convicted May 25 along with former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling of defrauding investors and employees by repeatedly lying about Enron's financial strength in the months before the company plummeted into bankruptcy protection in December 2001. Lay was also convicted in a separate non-jury trial of bank fraud and making false statements to banks, charges related to his personal finances.

Skilling, reached by telephone at his home in Houston, told The Associated Press that he was aware of Lay's death, but declined further comment.

Prosecutors in Lay's trial declined comment Wednesday, both on his unexpected death and what may become of the government's effort to seek a $43.5 million judgment from Lay that they say he pocketed as part of the conspiracy.

Burt Palmer, the church's executive pastor, told The Associated Press that the Lays attended church in Houston on Sunday. "The church continues to love them and help them walk through this difficult time."

Pat Worcester, executive assistant to CEO at Aspen Valley Hospital, said Lay was admitted into the emergency room at 3:10 a.m. Wednesday. She said the hospital would release a statement later.

Lay had built Enron into a high-profile, widely admired company, the seventh-largest publicly traded in the country. But Enron collapsed after it was revealed the company's finances were based on a web of fraudulent partnerships and schemes, not the profits that it reported to investors and the public.

When Lay and Skilling went on trial in U.S. District Court Jan. 30, it had been expected that Lay, who enjoyed great popularity throughout Houston as chairman of the energy company, might be able to charm the jury. But during his testimony, Lay ended up coming across as irritable and combative.

He also sounded arrogant, defending his extravagant lifestyle, including a $200,000 yacht for wife Linda's birthday party, despite $100 million in personal debt and saying "it was difficult to turn off that lifestyle like a spigot."

Both he and Skilling maintained that there had been no wrongdoing at Enron, and that the company had been brought down by negative publicity that undermined investors' confidence.

His defense didn't help his case with jurors.

"I wanted very badly to believe what they were saying," juror Wendy Vaughan said after the verdicts were announced. "There were places in the testimony I felt their character was questionable."

Lay was born in Tyrone, Mo. and spent his childhood helping his family make ends meet. His father ran a general store and sold stoves until he became a minister. Lay delivered newspapers and mowed lawns to pitch in. He attended the University of Missouri, found his calling in economics, and went to work at Exxon Mobil Corp. predecessor Humble Oil & Refining upon graduation.

He joined the Navy, served his time at the Pentagon, and then served as undersecretary for the Department of the Interior before he returned to business. He became an executive at Florida Gas, then Transco Energy in Houston, and later became CEO of Houston Natural Gas. In 1985, HNG merged with InterNorth in Omaha, Neb. to form Enron, and Lay became chairman and CEO of the combined company the next year.

Associated Press Writer Kim Nguyen in Denver and Michael Graczyk in Houston contributed to this report.


christie 11 years, 11 months ago

Yea, sure, I saw Kenny and Elvis at Walmart just a few minutes ago.

blessed3x 11 years, 11 months ago

Uh, huh. Can we all say "Bermuda"?

Look for his family to "disappear" in the next few weeks to parts unknown.

WOW! The black helicopters are low today.

lunacydetector 11 years, 11 months ago

i heard he was getting ready to spill his guts over a shady business deal he had with bill clinton. now he's dead.

shawn1040 11 years, 11 months ago

It is a shame, I would have liked to see him sentenced. But the sad truth is that he would have just gone to a white collar prison/resort and the tax payers would have pay for his stay. He actually saved us some money - thanks Kenny!!

Lay, once a confidant of former President George H.W. Bush and dubbed "Kenny boy" by President George W. Bush. - source: Reuters

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 11 months ago

Actually, now that you mention it, Enron was a major Bush contributor...

Steve Jacob 11 years, 11 months ago

Lay might have been pardoned anyway. But before all hell broke loose, he called his good buddy Bush, and Bush told him he was on his own. The stress of it all probally killed him.

And as one expert said, that I though was funny "why is he going to jail? He did nothing illegal, he just ran the company into the ground. If that's illegal, the president of GM and Ford will be on trial next"

BrianR 11 years, 11 months ago

MBNA was a bigger contributor. And they got the president they paid for, they've been asking for more restrictive bankruptcy laws for years, as have all the other godless usurors.

fundamental 11 years, 11 months ago

To be fair, Enron also contributed over $650,000 to Democrats during the 2000 election. Granted, not as much as it contributed to Republicans, but that's a lot of money, any way you slice it.

JackKats 11 years, 11 months ago

So, I guess all obits or stories of a persons life should list who they contribute to? Shame on you LJWORLD for showing no class and spinning something once again to show your bias.

And to the rest of you who stated "good", "saved us money" or showed no respect to a man while he is not even cold in his grave but used this opportunity to let the sludge of your liberalism and contempt for Bush, drain out of your brain to print, I am ashamed of you all.

Your words of what you stand for and your actions continually make me feel sad for you. To take this time to show your anger, hatred and contempt was and is unwarrented

My sympathies and thoughts go with the family and ffriends of Ken Lay.

shawn1040 11 years, 11 months ago

They forgot to mention in the article that he was also a MU alumnus.

I guess JackKats is not an investor, you and your bleeding liberal heart - boo hoo! I guess you are saying "It wasn't his fault he cooked the books, society made him do it" - right?

mooseamoose 11 years, 11 months ago

I was hoping he and Rush Libaugh would be sharing a cell for the next 20 years.

abe_froman 11 years, 11 months ago


All the LJWorld did was put a story the public would be interested in reading onto its website. This is a story done by the Associated Press.

And in terms of the "bias" comment, the fact that Enron was Bush's single biggested contributor is an interesting fact and one which will be noted in many stories. It has nothing to do with being bias if it's fact. What would be biased is overlooking it completely.

mooseamoose 11 years, 11 months ago

sorry - that's Limbaugh - you know - that percocet gulping, viagra smuggling toad.

My sympathies to the Lay family - now you can spend your ill-gotten gain without feeling guilty about Ken rotting in jail.

fundamental 11 years, 11 months ago


Actually, they do mention his MU connection in the 20th paragraph. Evidently, that didn't merit first paragraph status.

JackKats 11 years, 11 months ago

You guess wrong Shawn. I am just saying that life has a greater value then money and some respect would be nice. But hatred is spewed at every opportunity by many of you who read the LJW. That goes for both the Liberals and on the rare occasion,conservatives.

So if you invest and have money taken from you through cooking the books you say that value of money lost gives you the right to say "Good" when someone dies? That is sick.

Hatred happens to have no political bounds. I am merely pointing out the hatred and contempt that is more a problem in this country then the political ties that divide.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

"That goes for both the Liberals and on the rare occasion,conservatives"

Good to see there is no political motive in your defense of Lay.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 11 months ago

Posted by blue73harley (anonymous) on July 5, 2006 at 1:38 p.m. : My sympathy is with the thousands of Enron employees that now have to work when they should have been able to retire. Ken can rot in hell.


Sorry, JackKats. Many of my friends and family suffered tremendously at his greedy hands. Some lost all their retirement ($2M) and live in small town Oklahoma with no other job opportunities and are over 60 years old. I am not a hateful person, but yes - I'm with Earl on this one. Karma.

JackKats 11 years, 11 months ago

I am not defending anyone but do acknowledge that there are loved ones who will miss him and there are those that are hurting today because he died. I also see the spin in the paper to slide in his political contributions as way of promoting its agenda. Useing a man's death as an opportunity to promote an agenda is an ugly trait in my opinion.

Rest in peace Kenneth Lay and God be with your family in this time of grief.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

Lay was the one with an agenda, and he left millions of people in his wake as he bought politicians to do his bidding and screwed employees to pad his portfolio.

Alfred_W 11 years, 11 months ago

See ya Ken - say hello to Adolph on your way down...

fundamental 11 years, 11 months ago

If any one of us had all of our life savings negated because of ONE man, I doubt any of us would be too sad to see him pass on, unless we wanted him to suffer in prison for a few years before dying. There are literally thousands of people who lost nearly everything because of this man, and it certainly seems disingenuous for us to criticize what they might be feeling today upon hearing this news.

Chrissy Neibarger 11 years, 11 months ago

tony88- i can't believe you would say that Lay was a "great man". he was nothing more than a lying, theiving pile of crap. i hope he suffered tremendously when he died, and i hope his family suffers even more.

youngitized 11 years, 11 months ago

Sure would have been nice to see him rot in jail. The people that he hurt...this is the cake walk way to go.

Chrissy Neibarger 11 years, 11 months ago

tony88- my bad. i tend to skip through when people start rambling. sorry.

ronwell_dobbs 11 years, 11 months ago

I'll bet he finally figured how to take the money with him, and so he went.

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

See, all those people that said Ken Lay would never face jailtime for the evil crap he did turned out to be right.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 11 years, 11 months ago

Why would you want to see him rot in jail? I know he deserves to be punished severely, but now we don't have to pay to support his sorry a$$ for 20 years in the prison system. He's already taken enough of other people's money. This put a quick stop to that. I can't say that I hope he suffered during his death, but I can't say I hope he didn't either (and it's not rude to say that here because I guarantee his family is not reading LJW).

fletch 11 years, 11 months ago

Oh, and after reading some of these comments, the words of my grandpa come to mind: Don't piss on a man's grave, just crack open a beer and enjoy the fact the he's not there to drink it.

Ken Lay was a pretty bad excuse of a human being. He destroyed thousands of lives and families. He broke man's laws. He broke God's laws. By all accounts, he cared about himself and only himself. But that being said, I'm sure his family is sad because that's part of being a family. You love somebdoy no matter what kind of SOB he turns out to be. So, yeah, I do hope his family gets through this. Past that, I'm not going to say anything like "may god have mercy on his soul" or "may he rest in peace." I'm just going to crack open a beer and enjoy the fact that I'm still alive to enjoy it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 11 months ago

Yea, how do we know he's really dead, and not just on a plane to some island he owns?

staff04 11 years, 11 months ago

Oh, and this. It was up about 2 hours after the AP story broke this morning. Kind of humorous for the conspiracy theorists...

Linda Aikins 11 years, 11 months ago

Wonder what kind of life insurance the poor Mrs. Lay will receive. I bet she'll be condemned to live on $50K a month from now on.

Poor thing.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 11 months ago

At times like these I hope you fundies are correct.

Rot in hell, Ken Lay.

xenophonschild 11 years, 11 months ago

Oh yeah, conservativeman. What a phony blowhard. You villify small-time crooks who take down gas stations for eighty-bucks, but you give a pass to a maggot who destoyed thousands of lives, millions of dreams.


Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 11 months ago

the man is dead and many people have suffered now is the time to focus on the living.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 11 months ago

"Where do bad folks go when they die? They dont go to heaven where the angels fly. They go to a lake of fire and fry. Won't see 'em again 'til the 4th of July"

Lake of Fire, Meat Puppets.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 11 months ago

rightstinker has a point.

This is why heads were brought on stakes; to verify the death.

I want to see Lay's head on a stake.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

Marion, most people are ignorant of the law due to the fact that they have made the law into a complex and foreign language that one must study for years to understand......And what is the alternative? a jury of lawyers? While flawed in many, corrupted in many ways....the jury system is still a integral part of our country at what it was founded on. As for mr. lay, people obviously have strong opinions on this issue and whether they are "sick" or not for cursing a dead man is a matter of opinion....Personally, I'm cursing most politicians and ceos right now....If I was rich maybe it would be differant....that makes me a hypocrite, but hey, it comes along with the thumbs and color vision.

staff04 11 years, 11 months ago

Posted by conservativeman (anonymous) on July 5, 2006 at 8:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" Whatever Lay did or knew is history."

Shhhhh....don't tell Arminius....

"Remember him for the good he has done."

Okay. Was it the crisis in California, or the $43.5 million he personally profited? Oh, wait. It must have been all the employees and investors whose lives he ruined.

Posted by mommaeffortx2 (anonymous) on July 5, 2006 at 8:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"the man is dead and many people have suffered now is the time to focus on the living."

I agree. Let's get those people their pensions back.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 11 months ago

No one will convince me to have one hair of pity for Kenny Boy or his wife. They knew what they were doing.

Call me whatever you want. I don't care.

G o o t s i e

Kelly Powell 11 years, 11 months ago

Pilgrim....People cursed hitler when he died....people cursed john wilkes booth...or oswald.....So yes, it is a matter of opinion.

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