Skilling Appeal Argues Secret FBI 'Sledgehammer' Notes Require Reversal

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Lawyers for former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling contend recently released FBI notes show that star prosecution witness Andrew Fastow gave testimony sometimes at odds with prior interviews he gave to federal agents.

In a 71-page filing made public Friday, lawyers for Skilling say his 2006 securities fraud conviction should be overturned because the FBI failed to turn over the notes before the trial began, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.).

The agency had turned over summaries of the interviews, rather than 420 pages of notes taken at the time, the Houston Chronicle reports. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake examined the notes but refused to turn them over to the defense. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the decision, ordering the notes released last November.

Skilling’s lead trial lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, said revelations in the notes are “a sledgehammer that destroys Fastow’s testimony” against Skilling, “infecting virtually every facet” of the government’s case, the Chronicle story says.

Petrocelli’s filing says many of the inconsistencies relate to secret side deals that played a major role at Skilling’s trial, according to the Wall Street Journal story. At issue is whether Skilling promised Fastow that he wouldn’t lose money in the deals. Such a guarantee would bolster evidence that the deals were fraudulent.

Skilling is currently serving a 24-year prison sentence. Fastow, the former finance chief of Enron, entered a guilty plea as part of a deal with the government and is also in prison, serving a 10-year sentence.

Skilling’s prior 58,922-word brief had argued his noncriminal behavior was unjustly criminalized in a fundamentally flawed trial. Oral arguments in the appeal were slated for next month, but they could be delayed to consider the latest arguments.

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