AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Wanted:  Qwest witnesses
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Friday, January 26, 2007

Federal prosecutors have asked a retirees group to help identify potential witnesses who suffered large financial losses after buying Qwest stock during the first five months of 2001.  Prosecutors also are trying to identify people who may have seen or heard former Qwest Chief Executive Joe Nacchio made statements about the Denver telco's ability to meet its financial targets or Wall Street expectations.

The request came recently to the Association of U S West Retirees, which has tens of thousands of members.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for Colorado, declined comment about the request, which comes just two months before Nacchio is scheduled to go on trial on 42 counts of insider trading.

Nacchio is accused of selling $101 million of stock during the first five months of 2001 while knowing that the company's financial condition was weakening.  He denies wrongdoing.

Chris Bebel, a former federal prosecutor in Texas, said the prosecutors are employing a good strategy to put victims on the stand.

"This personalizes (the case)," Bebel said, adding that "gut-wrenching stories" by people who lost their life savings also were used effectively in the Enron criminal case.

"It causes the jurors to view this in a less academic, abstract manner and fully understand the massive financial cruelty that stemmed from the alleged impropriety," Bebel said.

But if prosecutors don't have such witnesses yet, they are a bit late in looking for them Bebel said.

Prosecutor Colleen Conry, who served on the Enron task force, will be meeting with potential witnesses, according to a letter to retirees from Curtis Kennedy, attorney for the Association of U S West Retiree.

Nacchio's trial is set to start March 19 in Denver.

smithje@rockymountainnews.com or 303-954-5155

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/other_business/acticle/0,2777,DRMN_23916_5306012,00.html