Today the Supreme Court vacated the criminal conviction of Jeffrey Skilling stemming from the collapse of Enron. Some of you may remember that Skilling served as the CEO of Enron until August 14, 2001. Less than 4 months after his departure, Enron spiraled into bankruptcy. On May 26, 2006, following a 4-month trial and nearly 5 days of deliberation, the jury found Skilling guilty of 19 counts, including honest-service wire fraud, money-or-property fraud, and securities fraud.
The Supreme Court vacated Skilling’s conviction because it found the “honest-services” wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1346, to be void for vagueness. The Court held that the honest-services fraud statute is limited to schemes involving bribes and kickbacks. Since the government did not allege that Skilling solicited or accepted side payments from a third party in exchange for making the misrepresentations about Enron’s fiscal health, the Court determined that Skilling did not commit honest-service fraud and vacated his conviction.
Don’t worry, the Supreme Court did not give Skilling a get out of jail free card. So your 401k is still safe (at least for the time being). A new trial is likely in the works. The case has been remanded to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for further proceedings.
That’s the Enron-free view of one other Lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. He’s James Duffy.