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Volume 71, Issue 148, Thursday, July 6, 2006

News

Ken Lay dies of natural causes

Former Enron head, UH alumnus was set to be sentenced in October for fraud conviction

Cougar News Staff

Ken Lay, former Enron chief executive, died early Wednesday morning of natural causes during a visit to Colorado, authorities reported.

Preliminary autopsy reports by Dr. Robert Kurtzman of Grand Junction, Colo., indicate Lay, who was 64, had clogged arteries and died of natural causes. Lay also apparently suffered a heart attack, Kurtzman said at a press conference.

Aspen authorities reported an ambulance was dispatched to the Lay°Øs home and he was pronounced dead at Aspen Valley Hospital at 4:11 a.m.

Details about his death have not been released pending family notification.

Lay was convicted in May on several counts of fraud and conspiracy of bank fraud related to the downfall of Enron, the Houston-based energy company he founded.

Lay had been free on a $5 million bond after a jury convicted him May 25. He and Jeff Skilling, who served as Enron CEO from February to August 2001, were facing long prison terms for their financial crimes and roles in the demise of Enron. Lay°Øs sentencing was scheduled for this fall.

Lay continued to profess his innocence in the Enron scandal even after he was convicted.

°°I firmly believe I°Øm innocent of the charges against me,°Ø°Ø Lay told reporters in May. °°We believe God is in fact in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord.°Ø°Ø

Lay, who received a doctorate in economics from UH, built many relationships with leaders and politicians. 

He earned the nickname °°Kenny Boy°± from President George W. Bush.

Å6£8Å6£8Many in the Houston area were stunned by the sudden death of a person who was actively involved in the city.

Å6£8Å6£8Under Lay°Øs leadership, Enron went on to be ranked No. 7 on the Fortune 500 in 2000. In an effort to keep the Astros in Houston, he lobbied for a new stadium °™ now Minute Maid Park °™ to be built in town.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee released the following statement on the death of Lay: 

°°As we all know, Mr. Lay had many facets to his life. We in Houston however knew him most as a leader and a person sincerely concerned about the progress and the development of his community. 

°°While his final days did take a tragic turn and the court of justice addressed his case, those of us who knew him for a period of time were very aware of his personal faith and his strength. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his family and friends as we ask for God°Øs blessings on his soul. Kenneth Lay loved the community of Houston and America and we thank him for it.°±

Before his death, Lay was making preparations to appeal his May conviction.

Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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