by: Capella Tucker, May 25, 2006 5:05:00 am
Although many former Enron employees have moved on with their lives, it's still a day of mixed emotions. Joanne Gillory worked at Enron for four years and at the time was a single mother. She says the collapse of Enron was financially devastating to her as it was to many others. Gillory will forever remember the phone call she got the morning of the verdict.
"I was walking into my sons last day of school awards program and my cell phone rang and my brother called me. And he asked me did you hear the news and I said no and he said, so he told me over the phone."
Gillory had actually been afraid there wasn't going to be enough evidence for a conviction.
"I think I was at the point I thought they were going to walk, to be able to walk. So I'm shocked, but I'm happy that justice finally prevailed."
Gillory says she does feel sympathy for Ken Lay.
"If you would have looked up the word integrity in the dictionary you would have saw his picture. That's how much faith and trust we had in him. I even give him the benefit that he did not know what was going on to the extent of the things going on prior to his leaving as CEO of the company but when he came back he absolutely knew what was going on."
Gillory says she and other employees trusted what Lay was saying about the company when he returned to the helm. Former Enron employee Craig Rickard got a phone call from a friend about 45 minutes before the verdict was read. He went to his office and watched the verdict come in on his computer in his office.
"I'm excited, it's nice to have some conclusion to five years or so of drama and a lot of dialogue back and forth among ex co-workers about whether they were going to be punished for that."
Rickard says the verdict sends a message.
"It sets a good trend for values, integrity, doing the right things in all aspects, but especially in business when you can affect so many lives. So I think it is a positive thing and I think it will be looked at that way in the history books."
University of Houston Law Professor Nancy Rapaport agrees.
"I think there are executives all over the country and probably all over the world who are taking a lesson from this that they need to in addition to talking to accountants, in addition to talking with lawyers, in addition to talking with the board, they have to make sure that they themselves understand what it is they are signing off on."
The word Enron has already in a sense become a slang term for shady accounting practices. And some feel that the collapse hurt Houston's image.Rapaport says Houston now has to adjust again to the Enron post-conviction world.
"Houston will go forward in a world in which people who were the face of Houston are now viewed very differently by the rest of the city."
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.