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Letters: Enron's Skilling and his jail cell

May 22, 2013

Re "Skilling doesn't deserve a break," Column, May 19

Jeff Skilling, the chief executive of Enron when it defrauded investors before its collapse in 2001, still believes he has the power to extort or bribe his way out of jail. It scares me to think that he might just succeed in having his 24-year prison sentence reduced significantly, confirming that justice is negotiable.

Let's drop all pretense here: Skilling is trying to pay his way out of jail, and if he succeeds, he will have reduced our justice system to rubble.

Skilling was one of the first smash-and-grab artists to be caught stealing with both hands in our unregulated markets, and we did not heed the call to strengthen oversight of the financial sector. His probable early release from jail tells me that we might have reached another one of those "let them eat cake" eras.

What's next? Bernie Madoff freed so he can run for mayor of New York?

John Thomas Ellis

Kentfield, Calif.

Columnist Michael Hiltzik omits any reference to the government's overreaching criminal charges against the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Enron's auditor.

As a result of Andersen's having been found guilty, the company surrendered its license to practice in all states, and all but a few of its 85,000 employees lost their jobs. This verdict was subsequently overturned unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That decision came too late for the employees. No "we are sorry" by the government for overreaching. No "we are sorry" for anything.

Journalism would be better served if columnists like Hiltzik started with analysis and then reached a conclusion rather than the other way around.

Kevin Minihan

Los Angeles


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