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Jul 6, 2006 — From MSN:

With his death from a massive heart attack on Wednesday, Ken Lay cheated justice. And then some. Not only will the Enron founder not end his days in prison, but according to legal precedent, his entire case will be erased from the records.

That means that, in legal terms at least, Lay was never convicted, tried or even indicted for Enron misdeeds.

For Lay's estate, and his widow Linda, the positive implication of this grim day is that the government now has no means to collect on its forfeiture claim against Lay for $43.5 million.

It's hard to believe, but the case law on this point is crystal clear, says Peter Henning, professor at Wayne State University Law School. "The idea is that you can't punish a dead person. It's not fair," says Henning. "Lay didn't get a chance to go in front of a court of appeals, which he had an absolute legal right to do."

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