Former Enron CEO Skilling Seeks Release From Prison

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling—who is three-and-a-half years into a 24-year prison sentence—wants out of jail while a federal appeals court reconsiders his case.

Jeffrey Skilling
Jeffrey Skilling

In an eleven-page motion filed Wednesday with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Skilling's attorneys argue he should "immediately" be released, following the Supreme Court ruling that sent the case back to the appeals court for review.

The high court last month sharply limited a widely-used statute that makes it a crime to deprive one's employer of "the intangible right of honest services," which was central to the government's case against Skilling. The court stopped short of overturning Skilling's conviction altogether, leaving that question for the appeals court. But in a related filing, Skilling attorney Daniel Petrocelli argues the honest services theory "infects" the entire case, and requires that Skilling's convictions be reversed.

Skilling, who served as Enron CEO for just six months in 2001 but largely crafted the failed energy company's business model, was convicted in 2006 on 19 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. He is currently housed at a federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colo. Petrocelli argues Skilling is not a flight risk, especially following the Supreme Court ruling.

"A decision to skip bail would be all the more irrational now that Skilling has won a landmark victory in the Supreme Court, completed close to four years of his sentence, and has every intention of continuing to pursue his legal rights to clear his good name," Petrocelli writes.

A different court has already approved the release on bail of publishing magnate Conrad Black. The Supreme Court sent his fraud case to an appelate court for review in a companion ruling to Skilling's.

The government is expected to file a reply to Skilling's bail motion within the next two weeks.