lifts restrictions, sets deadlines in Nacchio civil case
By Sandy Shore, The Associated Press
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Denver - A magistrate today lifted most of the interview and
evidence restrictions in a civil fraud case against former Qwest
chief executive Joe Nacchio and others now that Nacchio's
criminal trial on insider trading charges is winding down.
In the civil case, federal regulators have accused Nacchio and
other former executives of orchestrating a financial fraud that
crippled the Denver-based company, a primary telephone service
provider in 14 mostly Western states.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer had imposed the limits to
protect Nacchio's right to a fair trial. The criminal trial is
expected to be completed within a few weeks.
Kevin Traskos, one of the federal prosecutors handling the
criminal case against Nacchio, told Shaffer during a two-hour
hearing he did not expect any problems with attorneys in the
civil case questioning witnesses once the jury begins its
Shaffer set a series of deadlines for such items as evidence
exchange and witness interviews and asked attorneys for both
sides to meet by April 30 to discuss pending issues. Nacchio
was excluded until the trial has been completed.
"There are people in this case that deserve to move forward with
these issues," Shaffer said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused seven former
Qwest Communications International Inc. executives of committing
fraud between April 1999 and March 2002. The SEC said the
alleged fraud allowed Qwest to improperly report approximately
$3 billion in revenue, a move that helped it acquire former Baby
Bell U S West Inc. The company later restated the revenue.
The SEC is seeking repayment and civil penalties, with the
amounts to be determined at trial. One defendant has reached a
settlement with regulators. Two defendants, former finance
chief Robin Szeliga and Gregory Casey, a former vice president
of Qwest's wholesale business unit, have settled with the SEC.
In addition to Nacchio, remaining defendants include former
finance chief Robert Woodruff and former President Afshin
Nacchio's defense attorneys will continue presenting their case
to jurors when the insider trading trial resumes Monday. They
are required to tell prosecutors by Saturday evening whether
Nacchio will testify in his own defense.