Skilling Pays Lawyers $23 Million Before Assets Frozen

High-profile lawyers don’t come cheap, especially when you are former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who faces criminal and civil cases that could drag on for years.

Jeffrey SkillingCourt documents show that Skilling paid his Houston attorneys $23 million toward his defense before his assets worth $55 million were frozen by the government, the Associated Press reported. Among the assets frozen were Skilling’s homes.

"It sounds like a lot at first. But based on the number of cases Mr. Skilling is going to have to fight it may be reasonable," Houston defense attorney Kent Schaffer told the AP. "Just think about the millions of documents. Somebody has to read them, and nobody does that for fun."

Skilling, 50, faces 35 felony counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to auditors and insider trading, the AP reported, adding he could also face more than 100 conglomerated civil cases brought by those who lost jobs and savings in the Enron collapse. He has also been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is under investigation by Congress and the examiner working on the company’s bankruptcy case.

Skilling’s attorneys include high-profile California attorney Daniel Petrocelli, who won a civil trial against O.J. Simpson, brought by the family of Ron Goldman, and three other attorneys from the firm of O'Melveny & Myers. Also on the team is Houston attorney Ron Woods, who is a former U.S. Attorney in Houston, a former FBI agent and defended Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case, the AP reported.

On Friday, a judge will determine whether Skilling needs access to some of his funds to pay basic living expenses. Court filings show that Skilling earns about $3 million a year from his investments, income that is also frozen by the government. The $23 million payment to lawyers was discovered in filings in the case about whether Skilling’s assets will remain frozen.

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