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Kenneth Lay, former Enron Corp. chairman, and Jeffrey Skilling, the company’s former chief executive officer, got a break Tuesday in their criminal trial when U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston agreed to dismiss a few of the charges against them. After the prosecution rested its case Tuesday morning, Lake granted a motion filed by the Enron Task Force to dismiss three of the 31 charges pending against Skilling and one of the seven charges Lay faces in the trial that started in late January. According to a spokeswoman for the prosecution team, the government asked Lake to dismiss the charges for the purpose of economy and other reasons. Lake agreed to dismiss Count 15 against Skilling, a securities fraud charge stemming from a 10Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2000; Count 21, a securities fraud charge related to an analyst conference call in April 2000; and count 33, a false-statements-to-auditors charge related to the May 2000 10Q. Lake also dismissed Count 30 against Lay, which is a securities fraud charge related to an analyst conference call in November 2001. Lawyers for Lay and Skilling also asked Lake to dismiss other charges, but he denied their requests. Testimony in the trial, which began Feb. 1, is scheduled to resume April 3 with defense witnesses. In United States v. Jeffrey K. Skilling, et al., prosecutors allege the former Enron executives participated in a conspiracy to misrepresent the true financial condition of the former high-flying energy company. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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