The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans has given a reprieve to Enron’s former chief executive, who was due to report to prison yesterday and begin serving a 24-year sentence.The court’s stay of the order will keep Jeffrey Skilling, 53, out of the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, Minn., for a while longer. He was convicted in May on securities fraud and conspiracy charges, related to his role in the accounting fraud that led to the company’s historic collapse.
Skilling has he was made a scapegoat and wants to remain free on bail throughout the course of his appeals process. Enron’s founder Ken Lay was convicted alongside Skilling, but died in July before he could be sentenced.
Skilling will remain under house arrest in Houston.
Citing a successful appeal in another Enron case, in mid-October Skilling joined other convicted Enron executives in asking the court to void his guilty verdict.
Skilling’s argument hinges on whether the jury’s decision to convict relied on the prosecution argument that he deprived Enron of “honest services.” Executives for Enron’s broadband unit had convictions overturned by the New Orleans court after arguing that the actions they took were made in the best interest of the company.
Regardless, in Skilling’s case, prosecutors have said that in addition to the question of whether he defrauded Enron by withholding honest services, jurors could still have found him guilty of deliberately deceiving investors.
The government has already asked the court to review the honest-services issue and reinstate the broadband-related convictions.
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