In another example of how America is only free for the wealthy, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling had his prison sentence reduced today.
He was originally sentenced to over 24 years by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake. The sentence was reduced by an appeals court by nearly nine years.
The changes in sentencing did not previously become applicable because his attorneys were involved in court action to overturn his conviction entirely, including an appeal that reached the Supreme Court.
Skilling has been in prison since 2006. Federal prosecutors also agreed to an additional 20 month reduction with the caveat that he file no more appeals. This will allow for the distribution of some $41,000,000 in assets in the form of restitution to victims of Enron’s 2001 collapse. The amount will cover a very small percentage of the money lost by investors and former employees.
Skilling will still have the longest sentence of any Enron executive. Kenneth Lay, Enron’s founder died less than two months after his trial. He suffered a fatal heart attack.
19 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors for his role in the downfall of Houston-based Enron. The company, once the seventh-largest in the U.S., went bankrupt under the weight of years of illicit business deals and accounting tricks.
Investors lost millions, and Enron employees lost their pension funds.
The Supreme Court struck down one of his convictions, reducing his sentence. The Court said the “honest services” act, which is designed to protect investors of “the intangible right to honest services,” could not be applied to Skilling. It could only be used in the case of ‘bribes or kickbacks.’
Enron’s collapse put more than 5,000 people out of work, wiped out more than $2 billion in employee pensions and rendered worthless $60 billion in Enron stock. Its aftershocks were felt across the city and the U.S. energy industry.
Does anyone besides me think the sentence, the punishment, was far too lenient? Enron executives, with acts of pure greed, destroyed the financial present and future of thousands, killing their lifelong hopes and dreams. They ruined lives for the pursuit of more and more money.
Executives in the United States make ridiculous amounts of money. They make tens of millions of dollars annually, accepting both credit for the company’s successes and financial superiority.
When their felonious acts damage the financial security of those who actually work in their corporations, allowing them to live their luxurious lives, they should pay, and pay dearly for the rest of their lives.
Individuals who have been convicted of selling marijuana receive lengthier sentences than Skilling.
I believe that for the rest of his life, any money he earns in any fashion, should be placed in a trust. He could receive basic living expenses, but no more than the average American’s income. The rest of the money should be given to his victims.
Unfortunately, criminals such as Skilling usually leave prison, and are eventually employed in a similar or related fashion. They end up once again living lives of luxury, laughing about their past misdeeds, and the people’s lives they have ruined.
When a first degree murder verdict is levied on an individual, the court takes his or her life away with either the death penalty or life imprisonment. Why should scum such as Skilling not suffer the same consequences? In reality, there is no difference between the two. Lives were permanently ruined. Although no records are kept, is there any doubt that some of his victims committed suicide?
So what does our legal system decide? They decided that Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, will receive a reduced sentence. If you have enough money, America is the land of the free. The United States is “Alice’s Restaurant,” but only if you have the cash.
The Guardian Express