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A defense attorney for former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay tried to rattle a government witness Wednesday, questioning her expertise on accounting and operational matters at the company, her notes on board and committee meetings and her overall understanding of the financial health of the one-time energy giant.

During cross-examination at the fraud trial, Bruce Collins, a business litigator at Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal in Dallas, asked former corporate secretary and investor relations deputy Paula Rieker about an e-mail she sent Lay in early November 2001 when Enron announced it was merging with Dynegy Inc. It said, “Your leadership has been invaluable.”

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