- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

4:34 p.m.

WASECA, Minn. (AP) — Former Enron Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling reported to federal prison this afternoon to begin serving his 24-year sentence for fraud and other crimes in the collapse of the former energy giant.

Skilling arrived at the low-security prison a little after 1 p.m. in a small silver sport utility vehicle. The vehicle pulled up to the front gate, and at least four persons got out. Skilling hugged a woman who arrived with him, and the entourage walked into the prison. A few minutes later, everyone except Skilling emerged, and the SUV drove away.

The identity of the woman Skilling hugged was not known.

Even if Skilling, 53, earns a few years off for good behavior and for participation in an alcohol treatment program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca, he will be an old man at the end of his 24-year, four-month prison term. That’s more than twice as long as the sentence of any other Enron executive.

Skilling and Enron founder Kenneth Lay were convicted in May on numerous counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and other charges in the collapse of the Houston company, which led to the loss of thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in company stock and more than $2 billion in employee pension plans.

A federal judge yesterday denied Skilling’s request to remain free on bond pending his appeal.

Mr. Lay died in July of a heart attack before he could be sentenced, prompting a judge to vacate his conviction.

Mr. Lay “probably would have faced a similar fate if he’d been able to stand up for sentencing on the same day as Skilling,” said Leslie Caldwell, a former federal prosecutor and former chief of the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force.

Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer pegged as the mastermind behind the complicated financial schemes that ultimately doomed Enron, got six years in prison after pleading guilty. Several other executives are serving prison terms of 18 months to five years.

Skilling’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, did not return several phone messages.

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