October 25, 2011
"Five years later, Skilling's sentence is still up in the air"
I just came across this notable recent piece from the Houston Chronicle, which was authored by lawyers Jeff Ifrah and Jeffrey Hamlin, and which shares a headline with the title of this post. Here is how the piece starts:
Oct. 23, 2011, will mark the five-year anniversary of Jeffrey Skilling's sentencing and, remarkably, no one yet knows what the former Enron CEO's final sentence will be.
In May 2006, Skilling was convicted in the wake of Enron's collapse on one count of conspiracy, 12 counts of securities fraud, five counts of making false statements to auditors and one count of insider trading. Five months later, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake sentenced Skilling to 292 months — more than 24 years — in prison and assessed $45 million to be paid in restitution.
But given the vagaries of the federal sentencing system, Skilling, who is now serving time in a prison in Englewood, Colo., could end up serving that same 24 years, or significantly more time, or even significantly less time, for the crimes that he committed as leader of Enron. Skilling is currently scheduled for release on Feb. 21, 2028, when he will be 74 years old. He could, however, end up getting out of prison well before that and still in the prime of life — or he might serve what amounts to a life sentence.
Since the sentencing, Skilling's legal team has achieved some victories. In January 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit vacated Skilling's sentence on the grounds that the district court misapplied the federal sentencing guidelines. The next year, however, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the trial record didn't support a conviction on one of the prosecution's key theories — conspiracy to commit "honest services" wire fraud. But Skilling suffered a defeat last April, when the 5th Circuit upheld his conspiracy conviction and found this "honest services" error to be harmless.
With all that, though, Skilling still needs to be resentenced, and Judge Lake has not yet set a date for the resentencing.
October 25, 2011 at 09:40 AM | Permalink
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It would not surprise me if this is a case where the sentence ends up being more or less unchanged. It's not as if the victories on the honest services count really changes his overall culpability in any significant way.
Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Oct 25, 2011 9:56:42 AM
Does he still have a fancy private lawyer legal team? Or is he represented by federal defenders? At some point, it seems like more or less all his assets should be forfeited to pay whatever restitution is possible to the people he bilked. But maybe that doesn't happen until the sentence becomes final?
Posted by: Anon | Oct 25, 2011 10:30:17 AM