By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) – Jeffrey Skilling, the onetime chief of Enron Corp who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his conviction on charges stemming from the company’s spectacular collapse, has been released from federal custody, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday.
A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed to Reuters that Thursday was the date scheduled for Skilling’s release but declined to provide further details, citing privacy issues.
Skilling, 65, was moved in August 2018 from an Alabama prison camp to a residential re-entry facility in Houston, where Enron was based before crumbling into bankruptcy in 2001 amid revelations of widespread accounting fraud and corruption.
The energy company’s disintegration threw thousands out of people out of work, sparked federal probes and prompted Congress to crack down on corporate accounting abuses.
Skilling, who abruptly resigned as chief executive officer of Enron in August of 2001, just months before it filed for bankruptcy, was arrested in 2004 along with the company’s founder, Ken Lay.
A Houston-based jury in May 2006 convicted Skilling of 19 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors. In his role as CEO he maintained a facade of success as Enron’s energy business imploded.
In 2013, a federal judge reduced his 24-year prison term to 14 years, accepting an agreement between prosecutors and Skilling’s lawyers to end years of appeals.
Under the deal, more than $40 million of Skilling’s fortune, which had been frozen since his conviction was to be distributed to victims of the scheme.
Lay was also was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud but died of heart failure six weeks after the trial ended, at the age of 64, prompting a federal judge to throw out his conviction.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Tom Brown)