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Enron's Jeffrey Skilling Will Get Rough Justice

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, center, at the federal courthouse in Houston, on Oct. 23, 2006
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, center, at the federal courthouse in Houston, on Oct. 23, 2006 Photograph by David J. Phillip/AP Photo

Jeffrey Skilling’s get-out-of-jail-early gambit illustrates the rough nature of white-collar justice in America.

As a result of an elaborate deal with the Justice Department, the convicted former Enron chief executive may get out of prison in as little as four years. Understandably, victims of one of the biggest corporate frauds in U.S. history are going to object, and I’m not here to offer Skilling any sympathy. A jury determined he spearheaded an epic fraud that destroyed the world’s largest energy-trading company in 2001 and cost 5,000 employees their jobs. About $1 billion in worker retirement funds were wiped out. Skilling has been in federal prison since December 2006. Under the new deal, which requires a judge’s approval, he could get out as early as 2017 or 2018, assuming he continues to behave himself behind bars.