HOUSTON -- A federal jury yesterday acquitted three former Enron Corp. broadband executives of some charges but deadlocked on others involving them and two other executives.
The five were on trial for their alleged roles in making the failed broadband venture appear strong to investors to boost the company's stock price.
US District Judge Vanessa Gilmore declined requests from attorneys to identify the nature of the jury split. She issued an order barring jurors from discussing the case, which she said would have to be retried.
Former broadband chief executive Joseph Hirko was acquitted on insider trading and money laundering counts, and former strategist Scott Yeager was acquitted of conspiracy and security and wire fraud counts. In addition, software engineer Rex Shelby was acquitted of insider trading.
The jury of 10 men and two women, which deliberated four days and was considering 164 counts, was unable to reach a verdict on any counts involving former finance chief Kevin Howard and accountant Michael Krautz.
Former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling also faces charges that he lied to Wall Street about the broadband unit's value.
While there were no guilty verdicts, the outcome did not exonerate the five defendants.
''I feel very comfortable with the not guilty," said Tony Canales, Yeager's lawyer. ''Everybody should. The government did not get a single guilty."
''After three months, the jury didn't find guilt," Barry Pollack, Krautz's lawyer said. ''That tells us something of the government's use of its resources in this case."
Federal prosecutor Cliff Stricklin implored Gilmore to order the jury to resume deliberations today, saying four days of talks were not enough given the complexity of the case and the huge amount of evidence delivered to jurors.
Gilmore said she agreed the four-day deliberation time seemed short, but she declined to bring the jury back for more talks.
Prosecutors left the courtroom without comment.
''What can you say?" said Ed Tomko, whose client, Shelby, was acquitted on four counts of insider trading, but had 16 others result in no verdict. ''We're disappointed to have spent 12 weeks and an amount of money and wind up with a verdict that is confusing. It doesn't make any sense. Obviously they could not reach a unanimous verdict on most of the major counts."
Prosecution witnesses included former top technology executives who said the network was in disarray and its operating system -- touted as a feature that would slay competitors in the then-burgeoning industry -- was in its embryonic testing stages.
The government's marquee witness was former broadband unit chief executive Kenneth Rice, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud last year. Rice testified that he, Hirko, Yeager, Shelby, and Skilling knew that the network and operating system didn't live up to the hype.