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Enron’s Skilling Gets Nov. 1 Hearing on Retrial Bid

Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling’s bid for a new trial is scheduled for a Nov. 1 hearing before a federal appeals court in Houston, his lawyer said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court questioned whether Skilling was properly convicted on 19 counts for leading a conspiracy that caused the collapse of the world’s largest energy trader. The high court ordered a review of his case by the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The New Orleans court agreed to hear oral arguments on Skilling’s request at a session in Houston, Daniel Petrocelli, his lead attorney, said today.

“We are very pleased to have an opportunity to argue Jeff’s case and hopeful that his long nightmare is coming to an end,’’ Petrocelli said in a telephone interview.

All of Skilling’s verdicts were tainted by an invalid legal theory and should be retried without prosecutors’ reliance on so-called honest services theft, Petrocelli said in court papers. Prosecutors are urging the appeals court to reject Skilling’s request for a new trial and uphold his convictions. In court filings they insist jurors at Skilling’s 2006 trial didn’t rely on the invalid theory in finding Skilling and Enron’s Chairman Kenneth Lay guilty. Lay’s verdicts were erased because he died before he had the chance to appeal. Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment today.

24-Year Sentence

Skilling, 56, is serving a 24-year sentence in federal prison in Englewood, Colorado. He was denied bail while his case is under review.

More than 5,000 jobs and $1 billion in employee retirement funds were wiped out when Enron collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001, after revelations of widespread accounting fraud. Investors sued to recover more than $60 billion in market losses. The case is U.S. v. Skilling, 06-20885, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

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To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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