Reduced sentence likely for Ex Enron CEO Skilling

Reduced sentence likely for Ex Enron CEO Skilling
Friday, June 21, 2013 - 12:15pm

If all goes according to plan, Friday is going to be a good day for Jeffrey Skilling.

A federal judge in Houston is set to resentence the disgraced former Enron chief executive, possibly shaving about a decade off his original penalty.

Proceedings are to begin at 2:30 ET. Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas is expected to rule that the original sentence is too long because it was handled under improper legal guidelines.

Skilling, who was originally sentenced to 24 years, the longest sentence of any Enron perpetrator, has been incarcerated in the federal prison system since his 2006 conviction.

As of Friday morning, Skilling was facing a release date of Feb. 21, 2028. But following the judge's ruling, he could be a free man within five years.

He has also been ordered to pay about $50 million in restitution to victims of the largest corporate fraud in history.

Victims, including former Enron employees and stockholders, were invited to speak at the resentencing. More than 4,000 employees lost their jobs and some also lost their life savings, which were tied up in the company investment retirement plans. Investors lost billions of dollars. The name "Enron" has become synonymous with white collar crime, just as the name "Madoff" has become synonymous with Ponzi schemes.

Skilling was convicted of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors during his tenure as executive of Enron, an energy-trading company that went bankrupt in 2001 amid allegations of corporate fraud and corruption.

But Skilling has maintained his innocence throughout the duration of the scandal, just like his CEO predecessor Kenneth Lay, who founded Enron.

Lay was also convicted, in 2006, of corporate fraud. But he died later that year at age 64 while on vacation in Aspen, Colo., just months before his scheduled sentencing.

Skilling, 59, is being held at a federal jail in downtown Houston for the duration of the court proceedings. Also known as inmate #29296-179, he usually resides at Englewood federal prison in Littleton, Colo.

Another Enron convict, Andrew Fastow, was released four years early, in 2011, after making a plea bargain.

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