HOUSTON — Proving the old adage that ‘Crime Pays,’ former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling has struck a deal that will likely get him out of jail a decade early – not because of good behavior or new evidence exonerating him, but rather because he has enough money to make fighting his constant appeals prohibitively expensive for federal prosecutors.
Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr told reporters today that under terms of the deal, Skilling will be forced to pay over $40 million dollars to a restitution fund that aids former Enron employees, many of whom had their life savings evaporate as the energy company foundered in the fall of 2001. “We think this sends a clear message,” said Carr. “Ill-gotten gains will land you in the slammer. However, if you acquire enough of them, they will eventually get you out of said slammer.”
The news comes with mixed feelings for those whose lives were derailed at the hands of the company’s reckless corporate executives. Former employee Janine Howard, who posed nude for Playboy’s 2002 ‘Women of Enron’ issue to get back some of her retirement savings after Enron went out of business, is glad the ordeal is over. “As an Enron employee, he cost me my job, my savings, and my dignity. As a taxpayer, he cost me incarceration costs and legal fees. I’m just glad that, finally, I am no longer paying for Jeff Skilling’s action in one form or another.”
Another impetus behind the deal is that Skilling, who has been jailed for fourteen years, a term “that is probably enough” according to defense attorney Jim DeVita, is unlikely to repeat his offense – namely, swindling hundreds of millions of dollars from a publicly traded company and destroying the lives of its thousands of unsuspecting workers. Citing the emotionally charged nature of the case, DeVita asked the public to not rush to judgment.
“During these proceedings, it is imperative that justice remain blind,” said DeVita. “Besides, that makes it so much easier to pull a fast one.”
Skilling himself declined to answer any questions due to the ongoing nature of the case, but said he would miss his cellmate Tomas Sanchez, a working class farmer who was caught growing marijuana and sentenced to 25 years in prison.