Ex-Qwest Lawyer never called to stand
By Tom McGhee, Staff Writer
Monday, April 16, 2007
Yash Rana, a one-time lawyer for Qwest who helped
Joe Nacchio sell stock, is a background figure in Nacchio's
trial on charges of insider trading.
During four weeks of trial, his name was mentioned repeatedly by
prosecutors telling jurors about a document that Rana prepared
for Nacchio, who at the time was Qwest chief executive.
But Rana, a Columbia Law School graduate who was Qwest's vice
president for legal affairs, never took the stand, instead
telling attorneys for both sides he would invoke the Fifth
Amendment exercising his right against self-incrimination if
called to testify.
Rana, who is now an associate with New York law firm Goodwin
Procter, referred a reporter's call to his Denver attorney,
Thomas Johnson. Johnson was traveling and couldn't be reached
On Tuesday, outside of the jury's hearing, prosecutor Cliff
Stricklin argued that Rana feared he would be incriminated in
Nacchio's alleged backdating of the document, which gave
Nacchio's order to sell $14 million in stock. The stock sales
are included in an indictment that charges Nacchio with insider
trading in his sale of $100.8 million in shares and options.
Stricklin said Rana submitted a form to the Securities and
Exchange Commission on behalf of Nacchio that said on Jan 2,
2001, Nacchio had no material, nonpublic information about the
company that would bar him from selling under insider trading
But, according to a transcript of the discussion, Stricklin said
Rana crossed out the section of the document -- a Form 144 --
that included the date, telling the SEC to see instead an
attached order to sell that was dated Nov. 3, 2000.
"It (the Form 144) was not signed -- if he believed he had no
material nonpublic information, he could have signed it on the
day that it was filed. But instead, that part is crossed out.
And it's referenced back to Nov. 3," Stricklin said.
Nacchio defense attorney John Richilano suggested a different
reason in the transcript of the sidebar conference: Rana was
suspected "of some sort of criminal involvement in connection"
with a separate investigation that led to a former Qwest
executive vice president pleading guilty to one count of wire
Rana was also investigated for a directive "to destroy documents
too close to a time when a subpoena hit Qwest," Richilano told
U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham during the sidebar
"He may well think that, you know, if he testifies, that would
open the door to those areas," Richilano said.
The jury, which will return to deliberations this morning at
8:45, will have a chance to decide if the SEC document backs up
the government's allegations, or if there is another reason for
confusion surrounding the date.
Jurors saw the backdated election to sell several times during
the trial and heard prosecutors hint that it proved that Nacchio
knew that selling his stock in January violated the
But they didn't get a gander at the SEC Form 144, with its
crossed-out Jan. 2 date, until Stricklin made the prosecution's
final arguments in the case Wednesday.
"If you truly believe that you were not in possession on Jan. 2
of material nonpublic information, you'd go ahead and sign the
document. You wouldn't strike it out," Stricklin told the jury.
Staff writer Tom McGhee can be reached at 303-954-1671 or