Ex-Enron workers rejoice after verdicts
Former employees say the jury did the right thing in convicting Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Reactions from former Enron employees to Thursday's verdict in the Enron criminal trial were swift and unambiguous.
"Fantastic! Fantastic!" said Deborah Perrotta, who worked as an administrative assistant in Enron India's Houston-based office.
"It's a victory to show that corporate America can't get away with misleading the public and employees for their own personal gain," said Perrotta, who lost her job after the company filed for bankruptcy.
Enron founder Kenneth Lay was found guilty on six counts of conspiracy and fraud and former CEO Jeff Skilling was found guilty on 19 counts by a Houston jury in the biggest of the corporate fraud cases.
"Thank God," said Debra Johnson, another former Enron worker, "because the jury saw fit to punish them for what they did."
"The sentence may not be to everyone's liking," said Johnson, who worked as a coordinator in the Enron International office until the company's 2001 bankruptcy. "But the verdict is about being fair to everyday working people."
"Skilling and Lay thought the money, the power was everything," said Johnson. "This will let executives at other corporations know that it can happen to them. This is a milestone. And it's well deserved. We waited long enough. I'm smiling as I talk to you. I wish I'd been able to be there."
In a separate bench trial, Judge Sim Lake ruled Lay was guilty of four counts of fraud and false statements. Both Lay and Skilling could face 20 to 30 years in prison, legal experts say. (Full story).
"We're never going to get our money back," said Perrotta, who now works as a representative for the Texas Federation of Teachers in Dallas. "We're not going to reap from this. It's just the satisfaction. It helps me close the book on the Enron debacle.
"It closes the door. Now I can start a new chapter in my life," she said.
"I'm thrilled about it but disappointed I have to wait till September for sentencing," said former administrative assistant Rita Hennessy. "If it was me or you they'd have taken us off immediately."
Hennessy, who worked under former Enron chief risk officer Rick Buy and lost all of her retirement savings when the company collapsed, said, "Unless they serve time for what they've done, the verdict doesn't matter. You can tell a child they're guilty but it won't mean anything unless you give them punishment. What lesson is learned if you don't?"
Hennessy now works for a pipeline company in Houston.
"Justice has been served," said Roger Boyce, who worked in human resources at Enron's pipeline business. "I'm satisfied with the verdict but I'm happy for all of us employees and retirees that a just verdict has been reached."
Boyce, who retired the year before the company collapsed and was a plaintiff in an employee-stock option civil trial against the company, said he was a little surprised by how quickly the verdict came back. "But they seemed to do a conscientious job. Obviously they examined the evidence carefully, coming back with 19 convictions against Skilling."
He added: "The verdict gives a very strong message that corruption in corporations has got to stop. It sets up a strong precedent that companies can't get by with corporate greed."
The reaction from a Lay supporter was just as straightforward, but less jubilant.
"Lay has been the YMCA's friend and supporter," said Trazanna Moreno, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Greater Houston, an organization to which Lay had contributed.
"Having said that, we understand, believe in and support our legal system and the juries that have to make the decisions they do," Moreno said.
Lay, Skilling found guilty. Full story.
Ex-Enron employees: Give 'em 'hard time.'