May 12, 2006 at 12:07 PM
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HOUSTON, May 12 (UPI) -- A Houston jury Friday xxxxxxxxxx the former leaders of once-mighty Enron Corp., an energy trading giant that collapsed in a massive accounting scandal.

(Kenneth Lay, founder, and Jeffrey Skilling, chief executive)

The verdicts in the federal fraud and conspiracy trial came after 14 weeks of testimony, including a week each from the two defendants.

Lay, 64, and Skilling, 25, face/d as many as 25 years behind bars if convicted on all charges.

While Lay's lawyers and their client presented him as a trusting overseer with little day-to-day awareness of any accounting issues, Skilling's lawyers and their client stressed that there simply was no fraud and that Enron was the victim of investor and media hysteria of an otherwise marginal accounting issue.

Shortly after the jury began deliberating, the judge dealt a serious blow to the defendants when he ruled in favor of a demand that the jury be allowed to find the defendants of willful blindness to financial fraud.

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