Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling are closer to learning whether their futures lie in prison or liberty. That's after testimony ended yesterday in their federal fraud and conspiracy trial after the testimonies of 54 prosecution and defense witnesses -- including Lay and Skilling.
Their futures will be in the hands of a Houston jury by the middle of next week. The jury of eight women and four men will return Monday to hear lengthy 12 hours of closing arguments.
Enron was the nation's seventh-largest company before it spiraled into bankruptcy in December 2001 amid intense scrutiny of its accounting practices.
However, Lay won't be idle while awaiting the verdicts. He has a separate trial slated to start May 18th on charges of bank fraud and lying to banks. That case is expected to last two to three days and will be tried without a jury.
Skilling faces 28 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors and a maximum of 275 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Lay faces six counts of fraud and conspiracy that carry a maximum penalty of 45 years. Each of the four banking charges against Lay also carry a maximum penalty of 30 years.