At a resentencing hearing today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas resentenced Skilling to 168 months in prison. That was at the low end of a range of 168 to 210 months recommended by federal prosecutors in a May sentencing agreement.
“We, of course, thought that 168 months was appropriate,” Skilling’s criminal-defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli told reporters after the resentencing hearing. “This is a good man who has much to give. He should be returned back to the community.”
Lake also ordered Skilling to turn over approximately $42 million in restitution, which will go to victims of the Enron financial collapse, and to devote at least 300 hours of community service to help people find jobs during his first year of release.
In a written statement also issued June 21, acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Criminal Division, wrote, “The sentence handed down today ends years of litigation, imposes significant punishment upon the defendant and precludes him from ever challenging his conviction or sentence.”
“With today’s court action, victims of Skilling’s crimes will finally receive more than $40 million that he owes them,” Raman wrote.
Skilling, 59, 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 U.S. 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.
On May 8, the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division filed a notice informing Lake that it had a sentencing agreement with Skilling that could reduce his 24-year sentence to a sentence of 168 to 210 months.
In the six-page sentencing agreement filed in May, 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.
A graying Skilling, wearing green prison clothes in the courtroom, hugged Petrocelli after the sentencing. Members of Skilling’s family who were sitting in the front row of the courtroom, reacted with tears.
Petrocelli, a partner in O’Melveny & Myers in Century City, Calif., told reporters that family members decline comment.
Skilling declined Lake’s offer during the hearing to discuss his sentencing, saying a written statement he sent the judge would suffice. Lake told Skilling he had read all of the 200 supportive letters people mailed to him, including about 15 from prison inmates Skilling met while in custody.
Prosecutor Patrick Stokes told Lake that a sentence of 168 to 210 months would “appropriately account” for Skilling’s conduct. Stokes told Lake that in coming to a sentencing agreement with Skilling, the government considered “first and foremost” Skilling’s need to pay restitution.
“This will complete the process of stripping Mr. Skilling of his ill-gotten gains,” Stokes said in court.
“Mr. Skilling and others at Enron thought they were above the rules. . . . He knowingly used lies to hide from the public, the employees, what was really going on at Enron,” Stokes told Lake.
Diana Peters, a former Enron employee, urged Lake to impose the maximum sentence of 210 months. She was the only victim to address the court at the hearing.
Petrocelli told Lake that a 14-year sentence “more than meets the objectives,” because, in the sentencing agreement, Skilling agreed to drop his appeals and to pay about $42 million in restitution. Even at 14 years, Skilling’s sentence is the longest, by far, of any Enron defendant, Petrocelli said.
When sentencing Skilling, Lake said Skilling did contribute to the early success of Enron, and he has done a lot of charitable work, but evidence at his criminal trial showed Skilling “repeatedly lied to investors, including Enron employees.”
— Brenda Sapino Jeffreys