From the Ex-Employees: Revenge, Shock, Sadness

A courtroom sketch of the jurors and alternates on verdict day in the trial. The eight-woman, four-man panel deliberated for less than six days.
A courtroom sketch of the jurors and alternates on verdict day in the trial. The eight-woman, four-man panel deliberated for less than six days. (By Pat Lopez -- Associated Press)
By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 26, 2006

"I am in such an excellent mood," former Enron Corp. employee Ken Horton gushed from Houston yesterday.

Friends started calling Horton about 10:30 a.m. central time after news broke that a verdict had been reached in the trial of former Enron executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling.

Within a half-hour, the guilty verdicts began rolling in, the culmination of a 16-week trial, a four-year investigation and a nearly five-year saga for the 30,000 former employees of the energy company, many of whom lost jobs they loved and retirement savings they counted on.

Some, like Horton, were happy. Others were saddened.

Horton, who followed the trial closely, worked under Richard Buy, then Enron's chief risk officer. Enron's risk assessment division conducted sophisticated, minute-by-minute mathematical analyses that assessed the risk presented to the company by its various deals.

Horton joined Enron in 1998 and was one of the thousands of employees who boxed up their belongings and marched out of the gleaming Enron tower around the time the company declared bankruptcy in December 2001.

Like many employees, Horton felt betrayed by leaders of a company he loved.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would work at Enron again," he said. "I just would have invested a little differently."

Like many Enron employees, Horton also filled his retirement account with Enron stock. His loss "was in the six figures," he said. "It set my retirement back a few years."

Horton called working at Enron an "intense" experience.

"One of the really strong characteristics of the company was how much it was driven by deals," he said. "The people managing these deals had enormous bonuses riding on the deals and rode everybody hard."

Adam Plager's reaction to yesterday's verdicts was shock.


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