God's Men: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!
Finally, it happened, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling from Enron have been found guilty.
But then I noticed something about God and Ken Lay.
Ken Lay was quoted saying "I firmly believe I'm innocent of the charges against me. We believe that God in fact is in control and indeed he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord."
And I think it is perfectly fine if Lay believes in God.
But I find it strange that all these corporate chieftains, as soon as they get in legal trouble, they go running to God. It's not like they were having big prayer meetings in their corporations when they ripped off the small people. Well, of course I don't know that. But I think it is more likely that they were saying stuff like, "God, we're smart, and Jesus, how stupid those little people are."
Considering what Enron traders were caught on tape saying, it wouldn't surprise me if that was exactly what they said.
When a forest fire shut down some big transmission lines into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders were caught on tape shouting, "Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing."
Maybe they took their inspiration from that burning bush in the Bible, from which God's voice came. But I don't think God's voice came from those fires in California. No recording of that, anyway.
But the Enron czars are not the only ones going holy once they face legal trouble. Former Worldcom boss Bernard Ebbers wept as he was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his role in the scandal that brought down Worldcom. He reportedly said ""I believe God has a plan for people's lives, and I believe he had a plan for me."
I guess God's plan for Ebbers was jail.
And then we have Dennis Kozlowski, infamous boss of Tyco, best known for lavish spending of corporate money on $6,000 shower curtains and a toga birthday party for his wife with peeing ice statues. He didn't talk too much of God. But he called some of the expensive decorations used to remodel an $18 million apartment on Fifth Avenue that he had the company buy "god-awful" and told jurors that "I stuffed some of it in the closet."
Richard Scrushy had a different take on God. "God is good," he declared on June 28th, after a jury acquitted him on all of the 36 charges he faced in connection with a huge accounting fraud at HealthSouth
According to the Anniston Star, "Scrushy stopped attending his suburban white church when he was facing indictment and started preaching at predominantly black churches. He also donated more than $1 million to a black Baptist church that he joined shortly before his indictment. When it came time for his trial last year, Scrushy invited black pastors to attend and to sit on benches in the racially mixed jury's line of sight. One clergyman came forward earlier this year and said he was hired by Scrushy to round up black pastors to attend the trial and to provide public relations services in Birmingham, where the trial was held. To the astonishment of most legal experts, his ploy seemed to work. The jury acquitted him, despite the fact that five former HealthSouth chief financial officers who had admitted to cooking the company's books testified against Scrushy."
So hey, banking on God, actually may work. At least down in the South.
But only a few weeks ago, Scrushy found himself back in the courtroom, this time facing federal bribery and corruption charges.
We'll see if God helps him this time.
And then there's Frank P. Quattrone, a former technology investment banker, who made a fortune at Credit Suisse and was convicted of obstruction of justice based on an e-mail he sent out to destroy documents ahead of a federal probe. He is also a godly man, and tried to help the Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP), a nonprofit organization in California that defends wrongfully convicted people "He's a very religious man and was struggling for a long time to find meaning in what had happened to him," says Kathleen "Cookie" Ridolfi, executive director at NCIP and a law professor at Santa Clara University. "He believes that basically it was God directing his attention and saying, 'I want you to notice this issue."
In March 2006 a judge threw out Quattrone's obstruction-of-justice conviction because of faulty instructions to the jury, and granted him a new trial with a different judge. So perhaps God is with this guy, too.
Then we have John Rigas founder and CEO of Adelphia Cable. The 80-year-old elder Rigas received a 15-year sentence for the massive fraud that bankrupted the cable company and he became one of the more infamous corporate CEOs of recent years.
"If I did anything wrong, I apologize," said John Rigas in court, according to Bloomberg. "I did the best I can to correct it. If that means I have to go to prison, it's not where I ever expected to be in my life. Nor do I believe it's where I should be because of what happened. It's in your hands, and in God's hands."
God's hands gave him 15 years in prison.
And this makes me realize that it isn't just the government which has made a lot of money when sinners are brought to Justice. False claims act recoveries alone top $17 Billion Since 1986. That's a lot of money for the government.
But churches and synagogues may also have seen an upswing in CEO contributions during this time of corporate greed.
Never before have so many rich man offered so many prayers, and so much money to churches, with so little intervention from God. That's poor return on investment. But perhaps there's a reason for that:
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."