5th Circuit Upholds Enron Jeff Skilling's Conviction

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the convictions of Enron's Jeff Skilling. The opinion is here.

In a 13-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld all 19 convictions of conspiracy, fraud and other crimes. It also reaffirmed its 2009 decision that vacated Skilling's sentences of more than 24 years in federal prison and ordered a resentencing. In the 2009 ruling, the appeals court ruled that the sentencing judge misapplied federal sentencing guidelines.

Some of Skilling's convictions were for honest services fraud, which the Supreme Court has since held invalid. The Supreme Court remanded the case back to the 5th Circuit to decide "whether the honest services instruction amounted to harmless error." Today, the 5th Circuit found just that: harmless error, meaning the convictions stand:

Based on our own thorough examination of the considerable record in this case, we find that the jury was presented with overwhelming evidence that Skilling conspired to commit securities fraud, and thus we conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the verdict would have been the same absent the alternative-theory error.


Some (in my view) twisted reasoning:

In its rebuttal closing statement, the Government made reference to the honest-services allegations against both defendants, but it mentioned the honest-services theory in relation to Skilling only once. Further, it never argued that the jury should convict Skilling solely on the honest-services theory, nor did it tell the jury that it should disregard the evidence of securities fraud in reaching a conviction.

This single reference to Skilling’s honest services, in light of the Government’s extensive argument on securities fraud, merely permitted the jury to decide the case on the wrong theory. It did not force or urge it to do so, and therefore, it shows only that an alternative-theory error occurred, not that the error was not harmless.

So Skilling's convictions stand but he'll get a relatively minor reduction of his 24 year sentence when the court gets around to resentencing him. Skilling is serving his sentence at the low level federal prison in Englewood, Colorado.

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    What would be interesting (none / 0) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 07, 2011 at 08:26:07 PM EST
    would be to ponder what the results would have been had Enron's implosion occurred circa 2008?

    Granted, the frauds committed by the 21'st century criminals were not exactly the same (they were/are much, much bigger) as Skilling's, Ley's, et al, but criminal nonetheless.

    The lesson learned from Enron is not that "crime doesn't pay."  Skilling must be sitting in his cell, an ironic, involuntary smirk on his face,  thinking, "boy! We were such pikers compared these guys."

    The Banksters, and their associated charlatans, learned the lesson of Enron only too well. If you're going to do the crime do it right, corrupt everybody, not just those involved in the particular crime-du-jour.

    You gotta give'm credit; they devised the perfect "business model." Who's going to catch you? The regulators? O.K., no problem, buy them off. If one slips through, the prosecutors? Again, no problem, buy them off too. How about the triers of the facts, the judges? In the bag! And, finally, the Lawmakers? Ha, ha, they were the first to sell their mortal souls to this junta.

    Yeah, ole Skilling must be cursing himself thinking, "I was just born too soon."  

    Or just not connected enough... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 07, 2011 at 08:55:23 PM EST
    You're freakin' out, Paulson's freakin' in.

    Well said Shooter.  Madoff too...no spot at the Fed discount window to keep the scam runnin' for you.