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Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's Honest Services Fraud Conviction Vacated

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By FindLaw Staff on June 24, 2010 10:24 AM

In Skilling v. US, No. 08-1394, the Court affirmed in part the Fifth Circuit's affirmance of defendant Jeffrey Skilling's honest-services fraud conviction, holding that pretrial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from obtaining a fair trial, and he did not establish that a presumption of juror prejudice arose or that actual bias infected the jury that tried him.  However, the Court vacated in part, on the ground that 18 U.S.C. section 1346, which proscribed fraudulent deprivations of "the intangible right of honest services," was properly confined to cover only bribery and kickback schemes, and Skilling's alleged misconduct entailed no bribe or kickback.

As the Court wrote:  "In 2001, Enron Corporation, then the seventh highest revenue-grossing company in America, crashed into bankruptcy. We consider in this opinion two questions arising from the prosecution of Jeffrey Skilling, a longtime Enron executive, for crimes committed before the corporation's collapse. First, did pretrial publicity and community prejudice prevent Skilling from obtaining a fair trial? Second, did the jury improperly convict Skilling of conspiracy to commit "honest-services" wire fraud, 18 U. S. C.§§371, 1343, 1346?"

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