Enron's Skilling Asks to Remain Free on Bail During His Appeal

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Former Enron Corp. chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling is asking a judge to let him remain free while he appeals his conviction on 19 fraud, conspiracy and false-filings charges, according to court papers filed by his defense team.

Skilling, 52, faces more than two decades in prison when he is sentenced in a Houston federal court. Under the federal system, he must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence. U.S. District Judge Simeon T. Lake III could order Skilling into custody immediately after the court proceeding, set for Oct. 23.

But defense attorneys this week launched a preemptive strike, asking the judge to allow Skilling to remain free on bail pending his appeal. Alternatively, attorneys requested that Skilling be allowed to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 2, or no earlier than Nov. 27. He presents no flight risk and is not "a threat to society," attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli wrote.

Skilling has had other legal troubles since his May conviction. Earlier this month, he paid $385 to resolve a misdemeanor public-intoxication charge filed in Dallas.

To remain free during the appeals process, Skilling must prove he will raise substantial issues that are likely to result in a reversal of his conviction.

Lawyers cited three key issues they will bring up in the coming appeal: an instruction that allowed jurors to consider whether Skilling turned a blind eye to accounting fraud that took place on his watch, alleged jury bias in Enron's Houston home town, and a lack of access to former insiders at the energy-trading company.

The Justice Department's Enron Task Force has yet to respond to the defense motion.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company