Enron Exec Appeals to the Supreme Court for Mercy
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an appeal from Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former Enron Corporation chief executive who was sent to prison in 2006 for his role in the company’s spectacular collapse.
Mr. Skilling argued that a law under which he had been convicted was unconstitutionally vague and that he had not received a fair trial in Houston, the city where Enron was based and which bore the brunt of its demise.
The law Mr. Skilling challenged makes it a crime to “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”
Federal prosecutors have used the law to combat public corruption and fraud by corporate officials. The law does not require prosecutors to prove theft of money or property but only that defendants have been disloyal to or dishonest with their constituents or employers.
Mr. Skilling argued that the court should require that prosecutions of employees of private companies be limited to cases in which defendants had obtained some private gain at the expense of their employers.
In his brief asking the Supreme Court to hear his case, Mr. Skilling said that his conduct “even if wrongful in some way, was not the crime of honest-services fraud, because the government conceded that his acts were not intended to advance his own interests instead of Enron’s.”
Unless the law is interpreted to require proof of such a private gain by the defendant, Mr. Skilling’s brief said, it has the effect of “impermissibly criminalizing whatever wrongful or unethical corporate acts a given prosecutor decides to attack.”
In January, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, largely accepted Mr. Skilling’s characterization of the facts but declined to read a “private gain” limitation into the law.
The appeals court did vacate Mr. Skilling’s original sentence of 24 years in prison and $45 million in restitution, saying the trial judge’s sentencing calculations had been mistaken. Mr. Skilling has not yet been resentenced.
What Mr Skilling should really argue is that public accounting as a whole has failed time and time again and his part in this failure should be no more egregious than, say, Citigroup's KPMG auditors failing to detect epic balance sheet mishaps in recent years.
Or am I hitting too raw a nerve with that one? Fuck you, grow some skin.
Anyway, I'm giving Skilling the illustrious "boneheads" tag instead of "asshats" simply because I'm not convinced he's an asshat like, say, SF Fed's Janet Yellen. No, I think "bonehead" is more appropriate in this particular instance.