Linda Lay, the widow of former Enron Chairman Ken Lay, has filed against the forfeiture of nearly $13 million in property and cash that the government says is tied to criminal activity. The court action was filed after the criminal charges against Ken Lay were dropped after his death last year. The authorities have said that the property is the “proceeds of the fraud proven in the criminal case against Lay.” Lay’s widow has asked that she be able to at least retain the family’s condominium.
Ken Lay was convicted of criminal charges in May last year, but the cases were dropped following his death in July. He left all his assets to his wife, so she is arguing that they cannot be seized since she, not her husband, is the rightful owner. The government contends that Ken Lay gained $99 million from criminal activity, part of which he used to pay off the $2.5 million mortgage on their condo, one of Houston’s swankiest high-rises, another $10 million controlled by a partnership named for the couple, and $22,000 in a bank account. They have said that the family’s condo “represents property involved in money laundering.”
Prosecutors filed this civil case in October, at the same time the dropped the charges against Ken Lay. Since those charges were dropped, they would have to prove that Lay committed crimes (which was called a “slam dunk” the first time around) if the civil action goes before a jury.
QUESTION: Should the government continue to go after what’s left of the Lay fortune?