Skilling Sentenced to 24 Years

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A federal judge in Houston has sentenced Jeffrey Skilling to 24 years and four months in prison.

The 52-year-old former Enron CEO is the last key former official to be punished in one of the worst business collapses in US history. The Enron tumble cost stockholders more than $60 billion and wiped out $2 billion in pension money for Enron employees and retirees.

Skilling and ex-boss Kenneth Lay were convicted last summer in the accounting tricks and shady dealings that led to the company's failure. But Lay died and his convictions were set aside last week.

Before pronouncing the harsh sentence on Skilling Monday, Judge Sim Lake listened to the outrage of people who got hurt. A 22-year Enron employee called Skilling "a liar, a thief and a drunk" who flaunted "an attitude above the law."

But a former Enron employee who said she had lost thousands in Enron stock and benefits said she blamed herself for failing to diversify.

Skilling himself told the judge he's "innocent of every one of these charges" -- but that he felt "remorse" over the company's collapse and its impact on the community.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)