​Jeffrey Skilling Prison: Skilling Wants Out Of Custody​​

By: | 06/21/2013 12:01 PM ET

Jeffrey Skilling is set to appear in court to learn how much longer he’ll stay in prison for spearheading the fraud that destroyed the world’s largest energy trader.

Jeffrey Skilling Prison

Skilling, 59, could see his 24-year prison sentence cut by as much as 10 years, freeing him as early as 2017, if a U.S. judge approves it at a hearing today in federal court in Houston.

In exchange for a shorter sentence, Skilling agreed to forfeit $45 million, drop his bid for a new trial and end litigation over his 2006 conviction and sentence. Skilling’s prison term was already set to be reduced by nine years, thanks to a 2011 appellate-court ruling that sentencing guidelines were incorrectly applied in his case.

“This agreement ensures that Mr. Skilling will be appropriately punished for his crimes and that victims will finally receive the restitution they deserve,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an e-mail last month when the deal was announced.

Prosecutors agreed to ask U.S. District Judge Sim Lake III to knock another year off if Skilling dropped his appeals and released assets seized by the government after a Houston jury convicted him and Enron’s former Chairman Kenneth Lay of manipulating the company’s financials and misleading investors. Lay died before he had the chance to appeal, and the verdicts against him were erased.

“The proposed agreement will bring a certain finality to a long, painful process, although the recommended sentence for Jeff would still be more than double that of any other Enron defendant, all of whom have long been out of prison,” his lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, said in a phone interview last month. “Jeff will at least get the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life.”

Former Enron employees and shareholders have contacted the court to express disapproval of the deal, Lake said in a May court order. The judge didn’t specify how many letters he’s received or how many people he will let speak at the re-sentencing hearing today under the Victims’ Rights Act, which requires judges to hear from victims before sentences are pronounced.