"When I Shook Skilling's Hand, It Was Limp..."
By Jason Leopold
The conclusion to the ongoing Enron saga was anti-climactic. Jeff Skilling, the company's former chairman and chief executive, will spend the next 24 years in a federal penitentiary after being found guilty by a federal court earlier this year of insider trading, wire fraud, conspiracy and other charges related to his involvement in the financial machinations that led to Enron's demise five years ago. The one-time high-flying energy company is now nothing more than a symbol of 1990s/Millennium-era corporate greed and Skilling its public face.
For Skilling, however, the realization that he will be spending the next two decades holed up in an eight-by-six foot cell has yet to set in. A month ago, he was arrested for public intoxication near his wife's home in Dallas. Last year, he was arrested in New York on similar charges. It's sad, really, to watch someone of Skilling's stature, the architect of the company's transformation from a pipeline owner into an energy trading powerhouse, a person who believed so passionately in the power of the free market that at one point in his career he helped an Enron employee develop an idea she had to trade weather derivatives in the open market, to fall so spectacularly and so publicly.
When I met Skilling in December 2001 at the Washington, DC, offices of his law firm O'Melveney & Myers, the firm he hired to represent him in matters before Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission, there were no signs of the meltdown that was to come. But he was certainly knee-deep in the first stage of grief: denial.<more>
On a side note: NEWS JUNKIE has been on the top 50 of Amazon.com's Top 100 books for nearly two weeks and is also a Los Angeles Times Bestseller--without the benefit of mainstream U.S. press coverage.
Jason should be proud particularly happy because his book was published by an independent, Process Media/Feral House Books. This is an amazing accomplishment for them and for independent publishing in general. Bully!