Former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling wants the U.S. Supreme Court to review convictions for his role in the collapse of what was once the nation’s seventh largest company.
Skilling attorney Daniel Petrocelli said an appeal was filed Monday asking the nation’s high court to consider whether the federal “honest services” fraud statute was applied correctly. The filing also questions whether Skilling received a fair trial without a change of venue.
In February, similar claims were rejected without a hearing by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Skilling sought the New Orleans review after a three-judge panel there upheld all 19 of his 2006 convictions of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors involving the 2001 collapse of Enron.
Skilling is serving a 24-year prison term that will be reduced after a federal ruling that a sentencing guideline was improperly applied. He is the highest-ranking executive to be punished for the accounting tricks and shady business deals that led to the loss of thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in Enron stock value and more than $2 billion in employee pension plans after the company imploded.
The petition filed Monday asks the court to settle different rulings in lower courts over how a defendant’s attempt for personal gain applies to a federal fraud statute. It also says that differing standards are becoming an issue in federal courts as prosecutions of white-collar crimes grow in the wake of the mortgage crisis.
The appeal also claims that although the 5th Circuit agreed that pretrial publicity warranted a change of venue, the appeals court erred in saying that wasn’t a reversible error.
Petrocelli said he didn’t expect the Supreme Court to take up the matter before the fall.