HOUSTON – A judge on Tuesday summarily rejected a request by former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling to overturn his convictions of fraud, conspiracy and other charges for helping perpetuate one of the most notorious corporate frauds in history.
Skilling had claimed evidence presented at his four-month trial alongside Enron founder Kenneth Lay was insufficient, and that his convictions on 19 of 28 criminal counts should be thrown out. With no explanation, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake denied the request in an order issued Tuesday.
Skilling, who aims to appeal and is to be sentenced Oct. 23, is awaiting rulings from Lake on other issues. The government has asked Lake to order Skilling to pay $139.3 million, which prosecutors allege he pocketed while participating in fraud.
The government had already intended to seize about $60 million in cash and property that has been frozen since Skilling was indicted in February 2004.
Last month, Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli asked Lake in court papers to schedule a non-jury trial on the seizure issues, noting that Skilling was acquitted of nine of 10 insider trading counts, so the bulk of the frozen funds alleged to be proceeds of illegal stock sales should be released.
Prosecutors responded by seeking the $139.3 million money judgment, which leaves it to Lake to decide whether a trial is necessary for the government to prove what is traced to ill-gotten gains and therefore subject to seizure. The larger amount sought from Skilling includes $62.6 million from gains in stock sales, $66.1 million in Enron shares used to pay the strike price and taxes related to stock options he exercised, and a $10 million bonus in 2001.
Lake has yet to respond to the money judgment request or Petrocelli's request for a trial.
Skilling and Lay were convicted May 25 of fraud and conspiracy at the conclusion of a four-month trial for repeatedly lying to Enron investors and employees about the disgraced company's financial health before the energy giant crumbled into bankruptcy protection in December 2001. The collapse obliterated thousands of jobs and wiped out $60 billion in market value.
Jurors convicted Skilling 19 counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors and Lay of six counts of fraud and conspiracy.
Both Skilling and Lay maintained that they were innocent. Lay died of a heart attack on July 5. Because he hadn't been sentenced, his death will wipe out his conviction and will likely end the government's efforts to seize more than $40 million in assets.