U S West retirees still angry
Former workers look forward to day Nacchio's trial begins
By Rocky Mountain News
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Dublin, Ohio, June 4, 2002
Qwest moves its annual meeting from Denver, but angry
shareholders follow from across the country.
The Denver telco is under investigation, and the stock has sunk
from a high of $66 a share in March 2000 to $5.
Security is tight. Bags are searched. Stockholders are told to
adhere to detailed "rules of conduct."
People are well-behaved as Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio makes his
presentation but then lash out during the question-and-answer
"This has gone too long, it has affected too many lives," says a
U S West management retiree.
"It's a shame what you've done to U S West," says a longtime
employee in Seattle.
Qwest executive stock options are the "ultimate greed," says
Nacchio, who only a year before had charmed his audience, mostly
keeps his cool. He maintains U S West wouldn't have survived if
Qwest hadn't bought it in 2000. (Analysts say the reverse is
"We may wish the world is better," he says.
And, at one point, when asked about the federal investigation,
Nacchio says he would hope stockholders would agree that in the
United States one is innocent until proved guilty.
Denver, March 2007
Many retirees are still so angry that they have volunteered to
testify at Nacchio's insider-trading trial, set to begin March
19 in Denver.
Government prosecutors have lined up a couple of potential
"victims" who bought stock during the first five months of 2001,
the period in which Nacchio has been charged with 42 counts of
insider trading. Nacchio has pleaded not guilty.
Nacchio made more than $200 million from exercising stock
options during his tenure, and the government is asking that he
forfeit $100.8 million of those proceeds.
Many retirees, meanwhile, have lost hundreds of thousands of
dollars each, some virtually their life savings as Qwest stock
dropped to barely a dollar in August 2002. Collectively,
stockholders have lost billions, and most will recover only
pennies on the dollar through civil settlements. Civil-action
fraud claims against Nacchio are pending.
Many retirees say they have been looking forward to the day
Nacchio gets his day in court.
"I'm delighted it's finally happening," said Shirley Eyre, a
21-year U S West veteran who retired as a manager in 1989. "I
think he cheated so many people and, of course, none of the
people he cheated will ever be repaid. But at least he may
suffer a little bit."
Eyre, a 72-year-old Aurora resident, estimates she's lost
thousands of dollars on paper. She still has some stock. "I
sold part but not soon enough. It just makes you a little more
cautious with the money that you have."
Here are two other stories of those affected by Qwest stock
losses. A number of others declined to be interviewed on the
record. Many are simply too embarrassed by their losses to
talk, says Curtis Kennedy, attorney for the Association of U S