White Collar Crime

Ex-Enron CEO Files Appeal

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Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling has filed an appeal of his conviction and 24-year prison sentence for his role in the collapse of the former energy giant.

Defense lawyers are attacking jury instructions and the legal theory used to convict Skilling for conspiracy, the Washington Post reports. The appeal claims “profound, inherent weaknesses in the government’s case” also affected Skillings’ conviction for fraud and insider trading.

Skilling is serving his sentence in a low-security prison. Another defendant, Enron founder Kenneth Lay, died last year.

The appeal, filed by O’Melveny & Myers, also contests the sentence, which is six years longer than the average federal sentence for murder. The legal team includes former acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger.

“Someone would have to pay for Enron’s failure,” defense lawyers wrote. “That someone was Jeff Skilling–the last man standing when the court meted out its punishment.”

A former prosecutor who followed the case told the Washington Post in an earlier story that winning a new trial could be a long shot. “The prospects for a successful appeal are extremely slim,” said lawyer Michael Wynne of Houston.

However the story noted that the judge who sentenced Skilling, U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III, is known for tough sentences, including a 24-year-sentence for a former Dynegy executive that was reversed on appeal.

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