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Former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay used a public speech on Tuesday to exhort other former Enron employees to come forward to “speak the truth” about Enron as witnesses at his criminal trial, which begins in a Houston federal courtroom in January 2006. “Either we proclaim the truth about Enron and its employees in this trial, or our friends, neighbors, potential employers and others will continue to believe that Enron was a criminal enterprise,” Lay said in his speech to the Houston Forum, a nonprofit group. Lay faces seven conspiracy and fraud charges in the trial before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston, United States v. Richard A. Causey, et al. Co-defendants are Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron chief executive officer, and Richard Causey, the company’s former chief accounting officer. All have pleaded not guilty to the charges. Lay told the business suit-clad crowd that the Enron Task Force of federal prosecutors has identified 100 individuals as unindicted co-conspirators, an action that makes them fearful of testifying at trial or even talking to defense lawyers in the case. “This has caused virtually all of them to refuse to talk with our lawyers and will almost certainly cause any of those that are subpoenaed by us to testify to assert their Fifth Amendment rights,” Lay said. But Lay’s lead criminal defense attorney, Houston solo Michael Ramsey, told reporters after Lay’s speech that, while he had not yet succeeded in getting any of the unindicted co-conspirators to talk to defense lawyers, he believes some will come forward before the trial begins on Jan. 17, 2006. He says a few potential defense witnesses are “kind of implying” they will testify, although he’s not ready to say anyone is prepared to sign up for the witness list. Lay said he has a sense the tide is turning, because some of the defense lawyers for those potential witnesses will now greet him on the street. He said that could lead to a meeting for a cup of coffee and later an opportunity for the Enron employee to decide to talk to defense lawyers. Ramsey said Lay took the unusual step of making a public speech a month before a criminal trial in an effort “to try to get the truth out” and to try to convince some former Enron employees to come forward and talk to the defense team. Lay spent much of his speech criticizing the tactics of the Enron Task Force, the team of federal prosecutors investigating the downfall of Enron, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2001. Sean Berkowitz, director of the Enron Task Force, did not return a telephone call seeking comment before press time. Lay also blamed many of Enron’s problems on what he called the criminal activities of Andrew Fastow, Enron’s former chief financial officer. Fastow has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. He awaits sentencing. David Gerger, of David Gerger & Associates in Houston who represents Fastow, did not return a telephone call seeking comment before press time. Lay said he believes “some measure of rationality” is returning to public discussion of Enron. But, he said, “The problem is that it is always slower reversing a mania or hysteria than it is starting one.”

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