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Ex-Enron CEO Skilling seeks new trial

Attorney cites “newly discovered evidence”

Jeffrey Skilling desperately wants to get out of jail.

The former Enron Corp. CEO—who currently is serving a 24-year prison sentence after a jury convicted him in May 2006 on conspiracy and securities fraud charges related to his energy company’s 2001 collapse—is seeking a new trial due to “newly discovered evidence.”

Skilling’s lead attorney filed the motion for a new trial last week in a Houston federal court. However, the court documents don’t detail the new evidence. Bloomberg reports that U.S. District Judge Sims Lake has ordered a June 7 hearing on the motion.

After Skilling’s conviction, the Supreme Court heard his case in June 2010. The court questioned whether the jury correctly differentiated between securities fraud and honest services fraud—which involves schemes that “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services”—when it convicted him. Historically, prosecutors have broadly used the honest services statute to combat misconduct by public officials and breaches of fiduciary duty by executives. The Supreme Court ruled that broadly applying the honest services fraud should only apply to cases involving bribery and kickbacks, and that broadly applying the law makes it “unconstitutionally vague.”

On remand, the 5th Circuit upheld the verdicts against Skilling, finding that the evidence was sufficient to convict him whether or not an error in legal theory occurred. 

Ashley Post

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