In a combination of acquittals and a jury deadlock, prosecutors failed yesterday to win a single conviction against any of the five defendants in a three-month Enron Internet fraud trial in Houston, the Houston Chronicle reports. The men faced various charges relating to their roles in allegedly misleading investors regarding the success of the Internet venture. Earlier, The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the obstruction of justice conviction against the Arthur Andersen accounting firm.
“This verdict is a reflection of the complexity of this prosecution,” said Robert Mintz, a New Jersey expert who follows the cases. “It spells trouble for the government trying to convince jurors in this case and others in the future.” Experts said the results of the latest case can only bode well for ex-Enron executives Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Rick Causey, who are scheduled for trial next January. Mintz said the judge was “quick on the trigger for a mistrial.” He said that “in cases this complex jurors sometimes go weeks and say they are deadlocked and judges send them back and they finally reach a verdict.” Richard Scrushy, former chief executive of HealthSouth Corp., was acquitted of fraud after 21 days of jury deliberations including a period when jurors said they were deadlocked.