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Enron's Jeff Skilling Gets 10 Year Sentence Cut

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.

Here is the sentencing agreement filed by the parties in May, and background about it.

Bloomberg News has more here. The Washington Post reports Skilling declined to make any statements in court today. He's been in prison since 2006. He could be out as early as 2017.

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Sentencing Deal for Jeff Skilling Appears Likely

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.

Details of Skilling's original sentence here. Posts explaining the ensuing twists and turns are assembled here .

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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.

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Supreme Court Rules for Enron's Jeff Skilling and Conrad Black on "Honest Services" Fraud

Some good news for Enron's Jeff Skilling and for Conrad Black: The Supreme Court has ruled in their favor on their challenge to the "honest services" portion of the fraud statute.

Section 1346, which proscribes fraudulent deprivations of “the intangible right of honest services,” is properly confined to cover only bribery and kickback schemes. Because Skilling’s alleged misconduct entailed no bribe or kickback, it does not fall within the Court’s confinement of §1346’s proscription.

The 114 page Skilling opinion is here. The Conrad Black opinion is here.

But, the court did not throw out the statute entirely, and it didn't reverse Skilling or Black's convictions, finding the error might be harmless and it will be up to the lower court or appeals court whether to overturn them. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy would have found the statute unconstitutional.

But the justices, in an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said prosecutors may continue to seek honest services fraud convictions in cases where they put forward evidence that defendants accepted bribes or kickbacks. "Because Skilling's misconduct entailed no bribe or kickback," Ginsburg said, "he did not conspire to commit honest-services fraud under our confined construction" of the law. [More...]

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Enron's Jeff Skilling to Get Lesser Sentence

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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