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Enron founder Lay, 2 others face joint trial on 7 counts

HOUSTON — Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay will get two criminal trials — one by himself and one with his former protege, ex-CEO Jeffrey Skilling, a judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake partially granted Lay's request to be tried separately from Skilling and a third defendant in their pending case, former top Enron accountant Richard Causey.

The judge said Lay would be tried separately on four counts of bank fraud and lying to banks, alleging he misled banks about using loans to buy Enron stock on margin.

But on seven pending counts of conspiracy and fraud, Lay will face a jury with Skilling and Causey, each of whom face more than 30 counts that include conspiracy, insider trading, fraud and lying to auditors.

All three have pleaded innocent.