A federal judge in Houston today reduced former Enron executive Jeff Skilling's sentence to 14 years. He was initially sentenced to 24 years. He was serving the sentence at the low security FCI in Englewood, CO.
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The Government and Enron defendant Jeffrey Skilling have filed an agreement with the Court for Skilling's sentence to be reduced from 24 years (292 months)to somewhere between 14 and 17 years (168 to 210 months.) He will get credit for the time he served since December 13, 2006. (He may also get another six weeks credit for time spent on home confinement before he reported to prison, but that will be up to the Bureau of Prisons.)
I've uploaded the 7 page agreement here. [More...]
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Former CFO of Enron Jeff Skilling may get his sentence cut appreciably if a deal under consideration between his lawyers and DOJ goes through.
DOJ has sent a written notice to victims:
"The Department of Justice is considering entering into a sentencing agreement with the defendant in this matter...."Such a sentencing agreement could restrict the parties and the Court from recommending, arguing for, or imposing certain sentences or conditions of confinement. It could also restrict the parties from challenging certain issues on appeal, including the sentence ultimately imposed by the Court at a future sentencing hearing."
Skilling, who has served six years, has yet to be resentenced following his appeal that tossed a few counts. He is currently scheduled for release in 2028. Will the deal be for time served?
Both Skilling and Blagojevich are serving their sentences at FCI Englewood. Blagojevich is scheduled for release in 2024. I wonder if they are pals.
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Andrew Fastow, Enron's Chief Financial Officer who cooperated with the Government and was sentenced to 6 years in prison, was moved to a halfway house today.
Fastow testified against Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. Skilling got 24 years, although he's due for a resentencing after the Supreme Court tossed the "honest fraud" portion of the fraud statute. The 5th Circuit let the convictions stand, but remanded for resentenicng because the trial judge miscalculated some of the guidelines. His wife served a year at the MCC in Houston. The Fastows also forfeited $30 million.
Fastow's release date is Dec. 17. He'll probably transition to home confinement sometime between now and then.
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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.
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Jeffrey Skilling, sentenced to 24 years in prison in the Enron case, had his conviction affirmed today by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals -- but the Court said the trial judge erred in his sentencing calculations.
The trial judge bumped Skilling four levels for "substantially jeopardizing the safety and soundness of a “financial institution.” The appeals court said that was improper because there was no evidence the Enron Corporation Savings Plan and the Employee Stock Ownership Plan
are "pension plans" or “financial institutions” and any doubt must be resolved in favor of Skilling. It said "We are unprepared to declare every corporate retirement vehicle a “financial institution.”
Skilling must be resentenced. His guidelines now will be level 36 and Criminal History Category 1 or 188 to 235 months. Since the court initially sentenced him to the bottom of the range, I expect it will do the same on resentencing, resulting in Skilling's sentence dropping from 240 months to 188 months. [More...]
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Update: Here' s a preliminary news report on the hearing.
By all accounts, he has a very good chance of getting a reversal on most of the counts he was convicted on. [More...]
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I'm just starting to read it, but the section on why oral argument is requested gives you a good sense of its flavor. After pointing out that contrary to the public's perception, Skilling was not convicted of causing Enron's collapse, it states:
Profound, inherent weaknesses in the government’s case—not just gaps in its evidentiary proof, but doubts about its basic theories of criminality—motivated the government to resort to novel and incorrect legal theories, demand truncated and unfair trial procedures, and use coercive and abusive tactics.
No word yet from the Court as to whether it will accept such a long brief. Appeals courts have strict limits on the length of briefs. I remember when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals fined Timothy McVeigh's court-appointed appeals counsel for filing an overly long (226 page)brief. I thought it was very unfair.
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Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, and forget about collecting $200. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals took one day after yesterday's stay order to deliver that message to Enron's Jeffrey Skilling today.
Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in his two-page order that "Skilling raises no substantial question that is likely to result in the reversal of his convictions on all of the charged counts."
As a result, Higginbotham denied Skilling's request for bail pending his appeal and vacated an earlier order staying his prison report date.
Skilling must now report to the low security level federal prison at Waseca, MN to begin serving his 24 year sentence. Ouch. But the Judge gave Skilling a glimmer of hope for his appeal:
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Enron's Jeff Skilling caught a last minute break from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday. He won't have to report to his designated prison at Waseca, MN today.
Skilling has a motion for bail pending appeal under consideration and the Court ruled he can stay out until it is decided.
Skilling has been sentenced to 24 years.
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