From the Sunday Chron: Mixed feelings from former Enron employees regarding the upcoming trials of Jeff Skilling and Kenny Boy Lay.
Some former employees harbor more sympathy for Lay, who was widely regarded as a fatherly figure in Enron's halcyon days, than for Skilling, the whip-smart and hard-charging Harvard MBA.
Tracey Michel spent six years in Enron's information-technology department and has always seen Lay as undeserving of the charges the federal government brought against him, though she adds that "might be naive."
"But if they do find them guilty, I hope they serve time," she said of both men.
Michel, though, keeps in touch with a number of former colleagues and said many remain bitter.
"The majority feeling is they're guilty and they're going to get them, especially with Rick Causey now folding," she said of Enron's former accounting chief who recently reached a plea deal. "Plus, just the plea bargain with (former chief financial officer) Andy Fastow, they must have some information — definitely something for Skilling, if not Ken Lay."
Skilling still does have fans, although some don't feel they can be public about it.
One former Enron employee questions what standard is being used to call Skilling "one of the bad guys."
"Where's the $6,000 shower curtain? Where's the $15,000 umbrella stand? This wasn't Tyco. These guys didn't enrich themselves in that way," the ex-worker said of Lay and Skilling.
Fastow, he said, was enriching himself on the side, "but he gets a deal."
Rod Jordan, who founded the Severed Enron Employee Coalition to support employees and retirees in efforts to recover money they lost, said he talks to former workers often. Their feelings on the upcoming trial vary.
"There's a few that I've talked to before that are still very interested, and there's some that don't want to hear about it," Jordan said. "They're more interested in, 'Are we going to get any money out of the class actions?' "
Four years of investigations and intense news coverage have made Enron a synonym for fraud and sleaze. But when the trial of former top executives Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay begins Jan. 30, defense lawyers will make a bold argument: Everything their company did was legal.