HOUSTON – Two former chief executives of Enron Corp. “lied over and over and over again” to investors and employees in a widespread fraud that cost victims millions of dollars, a federal prosecutor said Monday. Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling carried out their crimes “through accounting tricks, fiction, hocus-pocus, trickery, misleading statements, half-truths, omissions and outright lies,” prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler told jurors and a packed courtroom in closing arguments. Ruemmler, pacing back and forth before the jury box with her hands clasped behind her back, said Lay and Skilling did it all just to keep Enron’s stock price up. The men are charged with conspiracy and fraud in the energy company’s spectacular 2001 collapse. And when Enron finances took a turn for the worse in 2001, “Mr. Skilling and Mr. Lay had a choice,” the prosecutor said. “They could come clean and tell the truth about Enron’s financial condition – or they could lie to cover it up. They chose to lie.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsRuemmler thanked jurors on behalf of the United States for showing up for each day of the trial, and said they had heard complex and wide-ranging testimony. But she said repeatedly that the complex case boiled down to criminal lies. The government began its closing argument after U.S. District Judge Sam Lake told jurors to weigh with “great care” the testimony of witnesses who have pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors. Lake stressed that those plea agreements are “lawful and proper,” however, as he read instructions to the eight women and four men who later this week will begin deliberating Lay and Skilling’s fate. “You as jurors are the judges of the facts,” Lake said, urging the panel to decide the case solely on the evidence and “without prejudice or sympathy.” A key element of Lay and Skilling’s defense is that prosecutors pressured Enron subordinates into admitting crimes they never committed and lying about their bosses to avoid having to go to trial themselves. Jurors were expected to hear closing arguments by the defense today and begin deliberations Wednesday. The case lasted more than 14 weeks and featured 54 government and defense witnesses, including Lay and Skilling. Each side also presented mountains of documents and hours of video- and audiotapes that will be available for jurors to sift through during deliberations. While the jury deliberates, Lake will conduct a separate trial related to Lay’s personal banking – specifically, that he took out $75 million in loans from three banks and reneged on an agreement not to use the money to carry or buy margin stock. The bank-fraud trial will be conducted without a jury. Lake plans to issue his verdict after jurors in Lay and Skilling’s joint trial deliver theirs.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!