Skilling Sentence Vacated, But Enron Mastermind Still In Jail
As focus centers on $50 billion Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff, another notorious white-collar figure has re-emerged in the news -- former Enron chief executive Jeff Skilling.
Skilling, you may remember, was convicted along with former Enron chairman Ken Lay in May 2006 on several counts of fraud and conspiracy relating to the collapse of the next-gen Houston energy trader. Lay, Skilling and former Enron chief financial officer Andy Fastow constructed complex financial instruments and off-balance-sheet deals that hid problems within the company, prosecutors argued. A jury agreed that Lay, for instance, sold his Enron stock in a surreptitious manner while encouraging Enron employees to buy more.
Two months after Lay was convicted, he died of heart disease.
But Skilling has been serving a 24-year sentence in a Colorado prison and appealing his conviction, arguing that he did nothing illegal.
Today, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans denied Skilling's request to overturn the convictions but ruled that Judge Sim Lake made a mistake in his sentencing of Skilling in 2006 and ordered the former Enron chief to be resentenced.
The upshot? Skilling is still in jail, awaiting resentencing. And he may get a few years shaved off his sentence. But it's unlikely that Skilling, now 58, will walk free anytime soon.
January 6, 2009; 4:15 PM ET
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