That’s one helluva conspiracy

The Enron-related criminal cases just seem to get more bizarre by the day.

This Chronicle article reports that the Enron Task Force has named 114 unindicted co-conspirators in the Task Force’s criminal case against former Enron executives Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and Richard Causey.

The Task Force has apparently set a record with the number of its named co-conspirators. The next largest number of co-conspirators named in a case that anyone can recall is the one involving former Louisiana governor, Edwin Edwards, where the government named 61 co-conspirators.

Messrs. Lay and Skilling are requesting that the Court require the Enron Task Force to disclose the identities of the alleged co-conspirators so that their counsel can talk with them in preparation of their defense. However, the purpose of the Task Force’s abuse of naming such a large number of co-conspirators is transparent — they want to chill any potential witness for Messrs. Lay, Skilling and Causey from testifying during their upcoming trial.

The tactic worked like a charm for the Task Force in the recently completed Nigerian Barge trial, in which none of the two dozen or so co-conspirators who had not already copped a plea deal with the government testified during the trial. All of those alleged co-conspirators asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege.

However, that the tactic works does not make it right. Given the apparent lack of adult supervision in the Enron Task Force in making these types of decisions, here’s hoping that the federal judges involved will provide it for them.

If not, one has to wonder how Messrs. Lay, Skilling and Causey are supposed to mount an effective defense when the 100 or so people who worked most closely with them are effectively precluded from testifying on their behalf?

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