The former chairman of Enron, Kenneth Lay, who was convicted in connection with one of the largest corporate scandals in U.S. history, has died at the age of 64.
Police in the western state of Colorado say an ambulance was dispatched early Wednesday to Lay's vacation home near the resort of Aspen. He was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, apparently from a heart attack.
Lay was convicted last May of conspiracy and fraud for his role in an elaborate scheme to deceive investors about Enron's crumbling finances.
In late 2001 Enron, a giant energy company, was forced into what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Enron's collapse wiped out more than 5,000 jobs and $1 billion in employee pensions.
Lay was scheduled to be sentenced in October and faced the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.
Lay continued to maintain his innocence even after his conviction.
"I firmly believe I am innocent of the charges against me as I have said from day one," he said. "I still firmly believe that as of this day. But despite what happened today, I am still a very blessed man."
The financial crimes Lay and another former Enron executive, Jeffrey Skilling, were convicted of came to symbolize the corporate excesses and greed of the 1990s. The company's name became synonymous with corporate misconduct.
While Lay made hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and stock profits at Enron, he said at his trial he was broke because his Enron holdings were worthless and because of mounting legal fees.