It's been a long time coming- almost three years, but yesterday morning finally saw something I'd been waiting for patiently. "Kenny Boy" Lay finally did the perp walk, and thousands of ex-Enron employees were no doubt cheering wildly at the sight.
Lay is already pleading ignorance, saying that there is no way that any one executive could have possibly kept track of all the day-to-day details. So, dereliction of duty is now an affirmative defense? Somehow, I don't think anyone is going to buy this load of crap.
Former Enron Chairman Ken Lay pleaded not guilty today to charges he committed fraud and lied to his employees and others.
Afterward, he called a news conference and told reporters, "It has been a tragic day for me and my family.''
"An indictment came down that should not have occurred,'' he said.
While taking responsibility for Enron's collapse as its leader, "that does not mean I know everything that went on at Enron.'' He said that while "there may be some superman somewhere" who knows every single thing that happens at his company, that's an unrealistic expectation.
"I continue to grieve as does my family over the loss of the company, my failure to be able to save it,'' Lay said. "But failure does not equate to a crime.
"I firmly reject any notion that I engaged in any wrongful or criminal activity,'' he said. "Not only are we ready to go to trial, but we are anxious to prove my innocence.''
At least the criminal justice system will give him due process. This is more than he provided the thousands of Enron employees who lost their retirement money due to the corruption and venality of Lay and his minions. I know more than a few ex-Enron employees who want nothing more out of life than five minutes in a locked room with Ken Lay (and/or Jeff Skilling and Andrew Fastow). It's not going to happen, of course, but I can understand where the rage comes from.
Kenny Boy is lucky that he is still able to walk the streets. It's a testament to the maturity and professionalism of those who worked for Enron that no one has taken a shot at him yet. Few would be likely to shed a tear if this were to happen.
I hope that justice will be done, and not purchased. Lay, of course, can afford the best legal representation that money can buy. With any luck, the legal process will suck his bank accounts dry. Perhaps then he will come to understand what he did to his employees.