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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Skilling Attorneys Say Client Innocent

Aired February 19, 2004 - 11:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Live to Houston, Texas where we're hearing from Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron CEO's indictment. His attorneys rather.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DANIEL PETROCELLI, SKILLING ATTORNEY: He's raised his right hand, he has answered the hard questions. Five days in front of the SEC, in front of the United States Congress, subcommittees, the Powers Committee.

Jeff Skilling has nothing to hide. He did not steal. He did not lie. He did not take anyone's money. And in the 60 pages of charges filed by the United States government, they don't even accuse him of these things. It's not for lack of trying.

They, backed by the resources of the federal government, with an army of lawyers and investigators, have spent over 2 1/2 years, and untold millions of dollars, digging through tens of millions of documents and talking to every one you understand the sun looking for that kind of evidence. And it doesn't exist, because Jeff Skilling did nothing wrong.

And let me share this with you, folks. When this problem first surfaces a couple of years ago, Mr. Skilling insisted that he take a lie detector test. He did so, and he passed it with flying colors, without hesitation.

And, he took the test from one of the nation's preeminent polygraph experts, the same fellow, the same expert, who headed up the federal government's FBI lab for over ten years, who trained scores of FBI agents. And to this day, the FBI continues to use.

And let me share something else with you. We met with the prosecutors heading up this task force earlier this week. We had met with them before, we had given them all sorts of information. It, of course, pointed only to Jeff's innocence. We gave them the results of the polygraph test. We told them they were making a grave mistake in pursuing Jeff Skilling.

But they have decided to turn a blind eye to all of it. You know, I guess they need a scapegoat. And I guess Jeff Skilling is their scapegoat.

And now, they want to take this man away from his three children, his family and friends here in Houston, and put him in jail for the rest of his life. And that's the bad news. QUESTION: Are you saying Mr. Skilling...

PETROCELLI: One second. But let me tell you what the good news is.

The good news is that this case is not going to be decided by the Enron Task Force or any other group of prosecutors. This case is going to be decided by 12 decent people sitting in a courtroom, in a court of law, with real witnesses, with real evidence, and with real facts, and not with scapegoats.

And to be sure, Mr. Skilling does not relish the long and devastating ordeal that he and his family are now going to be put through. But to a great degree he is relieved because he can now look forward to that day when his good name is cleared and his life is returned to him and his family.

Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

PETROCELLI: He's not going to answer any questions.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The indictment today was an attempt to indict an entire company, a really once-great Houston company. And it's an attempt to demonize that company which has been done by government and others for the last two years. And it's done because there is no case against Jeff Skilling. And we're going to make sure that that cannot substitute.

QUESTION: Are you saying Mr. Skilling is a victim (OFF-MIKE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're saying Mr. Skilling is innocent and the polygraph says he's innocent. We'll share the questions.

PETROCELLI: It may well be he was asked not just one or two questions, as a lot of these tests are designed to do, but he was asked a number of controlled questions including -- including -- whether he was aware of any improper financial transactions that were presented to or approved by the board of directors. Passed with flying colors. No hesitation.

And the government knows it. They know they don't have any case in this, they know they don't have a case against this man. And that's why you see 40 counts and that's why you see 60 pages, to make it look like there's something there. There is nothing there. And he is a victim.

QUESTION: What was his role?

PETROCELLI: Let's go.

LIN: You've just heard from Jeffrey Skilling's attorney, the lead attorney there, Daniel Petrocelli, saying that the former Enron CEO, who turned himself in to the FBI, has actually taken a polygraph test, passed, according to his own attorneys, with flying colors. The prosecutors were standing by the defense attorneys, but appears they did not step up to the microphones.

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