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Lay and Skilling Guilty

Four men and eight women helped settle the score for thousands of Enron employees and stockholders today by finding Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling guilty of securities fraud. The jury convicted Lay and Skilling of misleading investors by deliberately hiding Enron's enormous debt and mounting losses. Enron founder Lay faces a prison sentence of up to forty-five years; former CEO Skilling could be sentenced for up to 185 years.

Under Lay and Skilling, Enron became the modern-day symbol of corporate greed and corruption. The once-giant energy company filed for bankruptcy in December 2001 amid allegations that management used off-the-books partnerships to prop up its stock price and deceive its investors. Enron's collapse wiped out billions of dollars in shareholder wealth--including the life savings of many of its employees whose retirement plans held company stock--and tens of thousands of jobs.

The convictions bring the number of guilty verdicts in the Enron debacle to twenty-one, including those people who pleaded guilty. No wonder CNNMoney.com called Enron "the granddaddy of all corporate fraud cases."
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