Once at the pinnacle of Houston's financial and political elite with a fortune worth as much as $400 million, Mr. Lay, the former chairman of the Enron Corporation, is now facing financial ruin.
While he has talked about his shrinking wealth since Enron's collapse, he has managed to keep up appearances, continuing to live in a full-floor apartment in the city's affluent River Oaks section. But already, according to personal financial records obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Lay has fallen out of the ranks of the city's millionaires, with a stated net worth of less than $650,000.
And that financial assessment is probably on the optimistic side. His assets, for example, include $1.9 million held in a trust that is almost sure to be eaten up by legal fees.
In addition, Mr. Lay, 63, faces potential liability from lawsuits that were filed against him by shareholders and others after Enron's collapse that would almost certainly force him into personal bankruptcy. Mr. Lay may also be forced to forfeit his remaining home, along with some other assets, if he is convicted in the criminal fraud trial that is now taking place in Houston.
This just makes my heart so sad. Why do these things always have to happen to such good people?