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Lay, Skilling Trial Set for Early 2006

The joint trial for former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay, former CEO Jeffrey Skilling and former chief accountant Richard Causey is set to begin Jan. 17, 2006. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in Houston set the trial date after agreeing with defense requests for more time to prepare.

Lay, Skilling and Causey had requested a December 2005 trial, while prosecutors requested a September 2005 date. Lake moved the trial date in 2006 to avoid conflicts during the winter holidays.

The trial is expected to be the biggest case to emerge from the U.S. Justice Department's investigation of Enron, which began as the energy giant fell into bankruptcy in December 2001.

Skilling and Causey each face more than 30 criminal counts, including fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. Lay faces seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. All three have pleaded not guilty.

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