News

Tuesday March 28th, 2006

Prosecution rests at Enron trial; judge dismisses three of 31 counts against Skilling, one of seven counts against Lay…Venezuela may extend deadline as aviation talks continue…Port of Houston Authority sticks to August completion date for new container terminal… A federal judge has dismissed one of seven counts against Ken Lay and three of 31 counts […]

Prosecution rests at Enron trial; judge dismisses three of 31 counts against Skilling, one of seven counts against Lay…Venezuela may extend deadline as aviation talks continue…Port of Houston Authority sticks to August completion date for new container terminal…

A federal judge has dismissed one of seven counts against Ken Lay and three of 31 counts against Jeff Skilling, as federal prosecutors rest their case in the Enron fraud and conspiracy trial. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake dropped two counts of securities fraud against Skilling and one of lying to auditors, and one securities fraud count against Lay. The Enron Task Force said it moved to dismiss certain counts for the purpose of economy, but defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli said there are other reasons.

“The government did not even attempt to present evidence with respect to certain of the counts, so they had no choice but to drop them. And as I think you heard from the judge this morning, he also noted the absence of that evidence.”

Petrocelli said the government has been parading witnesses with opinions, but no documents back up their assertions.

“The government’s case came as no surprise to us. It was long on atmospherics and short on actual facts. We heard a lot of opinions, a lot of impressions, a lot of high-level generalizations. But when it came right down to it, what conversations occurred? What documents exist? What notes exist? You saw very, very little of that.”

Petrocelli said he’s very pleased with the trial’s progress.

“We like the position that we occupy at this point. We think the jury is very attentive, very open-minded, taking their duties very seriously. And when we have an opportunity to tell our side of the story, we’re very hopeful and confident in the outcome of this case.”

The defense opens its case on Monday. The government presented 22 witnesses since testimony began, and the defense has pared down its witness list to about 100 from more than twice that. About a fourth of them are expected to testify, including Lay and Skilling themselves.


Venezuela says might temporarily back off its March 30th ban on U.S. airlines as aviation officials discuss demands that American authorities drop safety-based restrictions on its carriers. A delegation from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is in Caracas to reach a deal with Venezuelan officials. Venuezuela wants the FAA to lift safety restrictions in place since 1995 that prevent Venezuelan airlines from flying to the U.S. using their own planes. The Venezuelan government claims it has corrected problems with airline safety procedures. A ban would affect Houston-based Continental Airlines, as well as flights by Delta Air Lines and some flights by American Airlines.


The Port of Houston Authority expects an August completion date for its new container terminal. The first of the huge dockside cranes for the Bayport container terminal are en route from China and should arrive in mid-May. Ground for the $1.2 billion facility was broken in June 2004. The authority on Monday okayed the $17.4 million purchase of two more electric dockside cranes. Workers are forming and pouring deck slabs on section four of the wharf, according to the Houston Chronicle, and paving of the container yard is underway.


JPMorgan Chase is moving some 800 employees in the bank’s institutional trust group from the 75-story Chase Tower on Travis across the street to JPMorgan Chase Center. The move is part of recent efforts by Chase to move office workers out of leased space and into four downtown buildings that the company owns.

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