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Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay will get two criminal trials — one by himself and one with his former prot�g�, ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling, a judge ruled Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake partially granted Lay’s request to be tried separately from Skilling and a third defendant in their pending case, former top Enron accountant Richard Causey. The judge said Lay would be tried separately on four counts of bank fraud and lying to banks, alleging he misled banks about using loans to buy Enron stock on margin. But on seven pending counts of conspiracy and fraud, Lay will face a jury with Skilling and Causey, each of whom face more than 30 counts that include conspiracy, insider trading, fraud and lying to auditors. All three have pleaded innocent. “We’re going to have two trials anyway,” said Lay’s lead lawyer, Michael Ramsey. “Reasonable minds can disagree. I would have preferred it the other way.” Daniel Petrocelli, Skilling’s lead attorney, said his team is looking forward to trying the case with Lay and Causey. Andrew Weissmann, head of the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force, declined comment. Mark Hulkower, one of Causey’s attorneys, didn’t immediately respond to a call for comment. The 53-count indictment charging Lay, Skilling and Causey with various crimes stem from Enron’s 2001 collapse. Lake has yet to schedule the trials, but his rejection of Lay’s request for a complete severance means the Enron founder won’t get the single speedy trial he wanted. Lay had offered to skip a jury and leave his fate in Lake’s hands if that would help gain him a trial this fall. The government wants the trio to be tried together in March. Skilling and Causey want another 18 months to prepare for a March 2006 trial. Lay and Skilling both argued in court filings that the allegations against them overlap thinly, if at all, so they should be tried separately. The government countered that an overall conspiracy ties them and Causey together. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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