By Allan Turner
Responding to a federal appeals court mandate, lawyers for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and the U.S. Department of Justice Wednesday reached an agreement that could knock a decade off the disgraced CEO’s 24-year sentence.
Skilling, 59, was convicted in 2006 of conspiracy, securities fraud, making false statements to auditors and one count of insider trading in connection with the energy company’s 2001 collapse.
The new agreement provides for a jail term of 14 to 17 years and a financial penalty of $40 million. He would be credited for time already served. Skilling’s sentencing is set for June 21 in Houston.
“Today’s agreement will put an end to the legal battles surrounding this case,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said. “Mr. Skilling will no longer be permitted to challenge his conviction for one of the most notorious frauds in American history, and victims of his crime will finally receive the more than $40 million in restitution they are owed.”
Wednesday’s announcement came after last month’s notifications that such an agreement was in the works.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on two occasions has upheld Skilling’s conviction, but called for a reduction of his sentence. Skilling has been imprisoned since Dec. 13, 2006.
Houston-based Enron, one of the world’s leading energy companies, employed 20,000 people and had 2002 revenues in excess of 101 billion.
Jeffrey Skilling, the convicted former Enron Corp. chief executive, may get out of prison in four years if a federal judge approves a deal proposed by prosecutors that would allow the payment of more than $40 million to victims of one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history.
In exchange for having a decade lopped off his 24-year sentence, Skilling will drop continued litigation over his conviction, in which a jury found he spearheaded the fraud that destroyed the world’s largest energy trader. The agreement was revealed today in a filing in Houston federal court.
Skilling, 59, has served more than six years of his 2006 sentence for fraud, conspiracy and insider trading.
If U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of Houston approves the deal, Skilling could receive credit for time already served as well as additional credit for good behavior and completion of a substance abuse program in prison, according to his lead lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli.
That could put Skilling back on the street in another “four or five years,’’ Petrocelli said in a telephone interview.