HOUSTON - Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, the most vilified figure from the most notorious financial scandal of the decade, was sentenced Monday to 24 years, four months in prison, the harshest sentence yet in the case that came to symbolize corporate fraud in America.
He was the last top former official to be punished for the accounting tricks and shady business deals that led to the loss of thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in Enron stock and more than $2 billion in employee pension plans when Enron collapsed.
Skilling, 52, stood alone at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake; his co-defendant, Enron founder Kenneth Lay, died July 5 and his convictions were vacated last week.
Skilling's term is the longest received by any Enron defendant; former chief financial officer Andrew Fastow was given a six-year term after cooperating with prosecutors and helping them secure Skilling's conviction.
The former CEO's arrogance, belligerence and lack of contriteness under questioning made him a lightning rod for the rage generated by the collapse of Enron in 2001. Lake handed down the sentence after outraged former Enron employees spoke at the hearing.