DoJ Should Appeal the Dismissal of Ken Lay’s Convictions

This week, U.S. District Court Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas dismissed the convictions of former Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay. The dismissal of these criminal convictions effectively leaves the victims of Enron without appropriate financial restitution.

So, I’m urging Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department to immediately seek an appeal of Judge Lake’s ruling. The Government should fight to preserve Enron victims’ hard-fought right to obtain restitution.

I was also very dismayed to learn that the Justice Department failed to notify all members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee in seeking a legislative fix to the issue of dismissal of Mr. Lay’s convictions, instead turning only to Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois).

I have long held a keen interest in the Enron case, given my role as a Senator representing the State of California.  I have also worked actively to protect the rights of crime victims over many years. I believe that if Justice Department officials had approached my office about this issue earlier, I could have worked with the Administration to pass legislation.
Prior to his death, Mr. Lay was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all ten counts of the Enron Task Force’s indictment.  These charges included conspiracy, bank fraud, securities fraud, and wire fraud involving false and misleading statements. All of those convictions have now been dismissed, based on the sole fact that Mr. Lay has died.

That’s why I plan to introduce legislation when Congress returns from recess to address this important issue. We should do everything in our power to protect not only the victims of Enron, but also other victims who may be harmed by this unfair principle of law.