Risk & Compliance

Skilling Files Appeal

Attorneys for the former Enron CEO asked an appeals court to throw out his entire 19-count conviction.
Sarah JohnsonSeptember 7, 2007

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling has appealed his conviction for his role in the former energy giant’s demise. Daniel Petrocelli, Skilling’s attorney, filed the motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans on Friday morning, nearly a year after Skilling was sentenced to serve more than 24 years in prison.

More than 200 pages long, Skilling’s appeal tears through the court proceedings that led a jury to convict him of 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, and insider trading. His lawyers find fault with the way U.S. District Judge Sim Lake presided over the case, the length of his sentence, and the actions of prosecutors, according to press reports.

Weaknesses in the case prompted the government “to resort to novel and incorrect legal theories, demand truncated and unfair trial procedures, and use coercive and abusive tactics,” wrote Petrocelli, according to the Associated Press. Petrocelli could not be immediately reached for comment.

Skilling is the most prominent Enron executive serving time. He has been living in a federal prison in Waseca, Minnesota, since December.

In May 2006, both Skilling and onetime Enron chairman Kenneth Lay were convicted in Lake’s courtroom. Lay was cleared of the charges when he died of a heart attack more than a month later: his death vacated his conviction and indictment from the record because he had not been able to exhaust his efforts to appeal.

Skilling’s appeal tries to defer blame for any wrongdoing to his former coworkers; namely, former CFO Andrew Fastow, according to The Houston Chronicle. Fastow, who took a plea deal for his role in Enron’s fraud, is serving a six-year prison term in Louisiana.

The Chronicle reports that Skilling’s appeal attacks prosecutors’ statement that the former CEO had basically stolen from the company in not making sure the financials accurately portrayed Enron’s financial health. Petrocelli argued that unlike Fastow, who has admitted stealing money, Skilling didn’t steal from the company, the newspaper adds.