Sentence reduced for former Enron chief

One of the country’s most notorious financial scandals came to a protracted legal conclusion Friday as former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling — already in prison for his role in the once-mighty energy giant’s collapse — was resentenced to 14 years as part of a court-ordered reduction and a separate agreement with prosecutors.

Skilling’s sentence was reduced by 10 years, and his attorneys say it’s likely that with time off for good behavior and other factors he will be released in 2017.

Skilling has been in prison since 2006, when he was sentenced to more than 24 years by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake. But an appeals court vacated his prison term in 2009, ruling that a sentencing guideline was improperly applied. That meant a reduction of as many as nine years.

However, Skilling’s resentencing was delayed for years as he unsuccessfully sought to overturn his convictions, including appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Justice Department said that in an effort to resolve a case that has gone on for more than 10 years, it agreed to an additional reduction of about 20 months as part of a deal to stop Skilling from filing any more appeals. Federal prosecutors say the deal will allow for the distribution of $41.8 million of Skilling’s assets in restitution to victims of Enron’s 2001 collapse.

Tourism spending in the U.S.

Even with the reduced sentence, Skilling’s prison term is still the longest of those involved in the Enron scandal. He was the highest-ranking executive to be punished. Enron founder Kenneth Lay’s similar convictions were vacated after he died of heart disease.

Skilling, 59, declined to make statements during Friday’s resentencing hearing.

— Associated Press

Obama to nominate
McSweeny for FTC

President Obama plans to nominate Terrell McSweeny to be a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said Friday.

McSweeny, chief counsel for competition policy at the Justice Department’s antitrust division, would fill a Democratic slot on the five-member panel, which enforces antitrust law and laws against deceptive advertising.

The FTC usually has five commissioners, and no more than three can be from the same party.

The vacancy was created when Edith Ramirez, a law school classmate of Obama and a Democrat, was elevated to the chairmanship after Jon Leibowitz departed in February.

Because of the vacancy, concerns have been raised about deadlocks leading to inaction. In the case of a 2-2 vote by commissioners, the FTC takes no action.

The panel is considering several mergers, including the proposed Office Depot deal to buy rival OfficeMax.

— Reuters

Also in Business

l  Elaine Greenberg, the chief of enforcement for municipal securities and public pensions at the Securities and Exchange Commission, will step down in July to begin working in the private sector, the SEC said Friday. Greenberg was the first head of the enforcement unit, which was created in 2010, and she led it through major investigations and precedent-setting cases.

l  Morgan Stanley has received regulatory approval to buy the remaining 35 percent stake of a joint venture with Citigroup that it doesn’t already own for $4.7 billion.The bank said Friday that gaining full ownership of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Holdings, which operates under the name Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, was one of its key strategic priorities.

l  Shares of in-flight WiFi provider Gogo fell as much as 9 percent in its market debut as investors questioned the company’s high valuation after a two-day slide in U.S. stocks. The weak market reception for Gogo raised questions about the pricing of other U.S. initial public offerings, with as many as 10 companies looking to go public next week.

l  The Federal Reserve said Friday that it would miss a deadline to finish an investigation into its inadvertent release in April of market-sensitive policy documents, which were sent out a day early in a lapse of central bank security. Officials were not immediately available to comment.

l  John Mattera, 51, a South Florida man who was charged with running a $13.6 million scam involving nonexistent shares in firms including Facebook and Groupon, was sentenced Friday to 11 years in prison.

— From news services

Coming Next Week

l  Monday: Dallas Fed survey.

l  Tuesday: New-home sales.

l  Wednesday: GDP released.

l  Thursday: Pending home sales.

l  Friday: Consumer sentiment.