Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former Enron Corp. chief executive officer, may have just secured a get-out-of-jail-early card, due to a sentencing agreement he and his attorney negotiated with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division filed a notice May 8, informing U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas that it has a sentencing agreement with Skilling that could reduce his 24-year sentence to a sentence of 168 to 210 months (14-17.5 years).
Skilling has been in federal custody since December 2006. In May 2006, a jury in Houston convicted Skilling of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors.
In 2009 and again in 2011, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Skilling’s criminal convictions but vacated his sentence and remanded it for resentencing. In April 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari.
In a six-page sentencing agreement also filed today, the DOJ and Skilling “agree to recommend jointly” that Lake resentence Skilling at a guideline range of 168 to 210 months of imprisonment. Skilling agreed to “waive all potential challenges to his convictions and sentence,” and neither side will appeal a sentence within the recommended range.
The government writes that the agreement will allow more than $40 million in assets that Skilling forfeited would be freed for distribution to “victims of the Enron crimes” through restitution.
In a written statement, Peter Carr, a spokesperson for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, writes:
“Today’s agreement will put an end to the legal battles surrounding this case. 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. This agreement ensures that Mr. Skilling will be appropriately punished for his crimes and that victims will finally receive the restitution they deserve.”
In an emailed response to a request for comment, Daniel Petrocelli, a partner in O’Melveny & Myers in Century City, Calif., who represents Skilling, wrote:
“The proposed agreement brings certainty and finality to a long painful process. Although the recommended sentence for Jeff would still be more than double any other Enron defendant, all of whom have long been out of prison, Jeff will at least have the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life.”
Lake set Skilling’s sentencing for June 21.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys