Former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling continued to assert his innocence Monday as his sentencing on a federal fraud conviction loomed.
"Your honor, I am innocent of these charges,'' Skilling told U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, according to news reports. "I'm innocent of every one of these charges. We will continue to pursue my constitutional rights and it's no dishonor to this court and anyone else in this court. But I feel very strongly about this, and I want my friends, my family to know that.''
Lake is scheduled to hand down Skilling's sentence later Monday. Skilling spoke Monday afternoon, and was to be followed by former Enron workers and shareholders who endured massive losses as a result of the fraud that brought down the company.
Skilling was convicted this past spring of fraud and conspiracy in the collapse of the once-mighty energy trader. Enron went bankrupt in December 2001, a mere three months after Skilling relinquished his CEO post. Earlier in 2001, the stock market -- wowed by Skilling's slick salesmanship and the company's supposedly pathbreaking "asset-lite" strategy -- had valued Enron north of $60 billion.