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Ex-Qwest exec's sentencing delayed
Robin Szeliga has pleaded guilty to insider trading and faces July 28 sentencing.
By The Associated Press
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, April 20, 2006


A federal judge agreed Wednesday to a three-month delay in sentencing ex-Qwest finance chief Robin Szeliga for insider trading but rejected a prosecutor's request to put it off until the end of the year.  U.S. Attorney Bill Leone sought the postponement because Szeliga is cooperating in the insider-trading case against former Chief Executive Officer Joe Nacchio, which has not been set for trial.

Szeliga could avoid prison time if her cooperation is deemed substantial enough.

U.S. District Judge Walker Miller told Leone the case needed to be completed in a timely manner and refused to delay Szeliga's sentencing past July, a deadline set in her plea agreement.

"I do not want to end up deciding this matter in the fall," Miller said.

Szeliga sat alone at a counsel table during the brief court hearing as her attorney, Terry Bird, participated by telephone.  She left the courtroom without comment after the new sentencing date was set for July 28.

Szeliga pleaded guilty last July to a single count of insider trading amid the multibillion-dollar accounting scandal at Denver-based Qwest Communications.  She admitted to improperly selling 10,000 shares of Qwest stock in the spring of 2001 for a net profit of $125,000.

Prosecutors alleged Szeliga sold the stock based on nonpublic information that some Qwest business units would fail to meet revenue targets and that one-time deals were improperly used to meet those goals.

Szeliga faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine, although sentencing guidelines recommend a term of 15 months to 21 months and experts believe she'll probably avoid jail time.

During the hearing, Leone told Miller that Szeliga's cooperation has been "exemplary to date" in the case against Nacchio, who is accused of 42 counts of insider trading stemming from his $101 million sale of stock.  Leone sought a delay until December to give prosecutors time to determine the extent of her cooperation, noting that Nacchio's trial date isn't expected to be set until early June.

Former Qwest finance executive Grant Graham's expected sentence of one year's probation has been delayed as he continues to cooperate in the government's case against Nacchio.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have tentatively agreed to changing Graham's probation sentence to time served since his plea nearly two years ago.  Graham's attorney Daniel Sears recently pointed out that Graham has been under probationlike conditions during that period anyway.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_4635388,00.html