Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling ireportedly has a chance of getting out of prison early because the government is considering a deal to cut his sentence.
CNBC, which broke the news, reports that an appeals court ruled in 2009 that his 24-year prison term was too long.
However, Skilling was never resentenced because of delays in the appeals process.
In the meantime, his attorneys have made plans to ask for a new trial based on alleged misconduct of the Enron Task Force. If the feds cut a sentencing deal with Skilling, CNBC points out, they could avoid the embarrassment of a retrial.
In October 2006, Skilling, then 52, was sentenced for his role in the massive accounting fraud that caused Enron’s spectacular collapse. (The fraud led to much stricter accounting standards under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.)
Skilling appealed his sentence and convictions for fraud, insider trading, and conspiracy. In January 2009, a federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld his conviction. However, the court found the 24-year sentence was too harsh and ordered a judge to resentence him.
Skilling had gotten a “sentencing enhancement” (which allows a judge to impose a harsher sentence) for “substantially jeopardizing the safety and soundness of a “financial institution.”
The government argued that Enron’s retirement plans — which Skilling allegedly jeopardized — counted as a financial institution, but the appeals court disagreed.
“Under the government’s position, any large corporation would become a financial institution just by virtue of providing its employees with a tax-sanctioned retirement account,” the appeasl court ruled, sending the case back to the lower court for resentencing.
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