Skilling, who developed Enron's business model as an "asset-light" energy company, rose to CEO in 2001 only to abruptly resign six months later. Soon after that, the company collapsed in one of the most notorious corporate scandals of all time. Skilling has maintained his innocence, and in 2009 a federal appeals panel ruled Skilling's sentence was too harsh, recommending it be reduced to around 15 years. However, a resentencing of Skilling has repeatedly been delayed as the appeals process played out.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has consistently upheld Skilling's convictions for conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. In 2010, the Supreme Court struck down the legal theory used by prosecutors in Skilling's 2006 trial, but the appeals court ruled the error was "harmless."
Skilling's last ditch effort was to be a motion for a new trial based on alleged misconduct by Justice Department's elite Enron Task Force that prosecuted the case. Under the proposed deal, that effort would be dropped, sparing the government potential embarrassment.
CNBC broke the story of a potential deal on April 4, after the Justice Department quietly notified victims that negotiations were underway. At the time, a Justice Department official told CNBC, "The department's goal is, and has always been, to ensure that Mr. Skilling be appropriately punished for his crimes, and that victims finally receive the restitution they deserve."
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Victims will be allowed to comment on the proposed agreement. Some may also be allowed to speak in court when Skilling is brought back before the judge in Houston on June 21 to learn his new sentence. It will be Skilling's first public appearance since 2006.
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