Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of Enron learned that he will get out of prison a little early on Friday.
According to Reuters, Skilling’s prison sentence was reduced from 24 to 14 years, after a deal between prosecutors and Skilling’s lawyers. Skilling began his term in 2006, and had constantly tried to get a reduced sentence. According to USA Today, Skilling dropped his right to appeal in exchange for a sentence reduction deal. He will now get out in 2017.
His freedom will come at a cost. Under the deal, Skilling must fork up about $41 million of his fortune, which will be distributed to Enron’s victims. In addition, Skilling must drop his bid for a new trial, and end litigation over his 2006 conviction and sentence, according to Bloomberg.
This will not be a popular decision. According to USA Today, the Enron collapse put over 5,000 people out of a job, erased more than $2 billion in employee pensions, and $60 billion of stock became worthless. U.S. District Judge Simeon Lake, who approved Skilling’s deal, told Reuters, “This is not an easy decision.”
Skilling’s charity may have been a factor in this decision. According to Reuters, he taught English and Spanish to inmates, read to blind inmates, and held a job fair for inmates about to be released. After reading a letter of support from an inmate, Judge Lake said to Skilling, “You’ve made a positive impact on his life and many others, and I applaud you for that effort.”
Skilling may be making a positive impact now, but it is a little too late to repair his image. He will always be remembered for the negative impact he had on his Enron employees. A lot of people are bitter about losing their pensions, and add to the fact that he denied any wrongdoing at his trial, Skilling will probably never be forgiven.