OKs delay in sentencing ex-Qwest finance chief Szeliga
By Sandy Shore
The Associated Press
Friday, April 21, 2006
A federal judge agreed Wednesday to a three-month delay in
sentencing ex-Qwest finance chief Robin Szeliga for illegal
insider trading but rejected a prosecutor's request to put
it off until year- end.
U.S. Attorney Bill Leone sought the postponement because
Szeliga is cooperating in the ongoing insider-trading case
against former chief executive Joe Nacchio, which has yet to
be set for trial. Under the terms of her plea agreement,
Szeliga's prison term could be reduced if her cooperation is
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
"I do not want to end up deciding this matter in the fall,"
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 July 14 to a single count of illegal
insider trading amid the multibillion-dollar accounting
scandal at Denver-based Qwest. She admitted improperly
selling 10,000 shares of Qwest stock in 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 nonrecurring revenue
was 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.
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 illegal insider
trading stemming from his sale of $100.8 million in 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
Bird did not oppose a delay but asked that sentencing be
completed within three months to four months.
In a pending civil case, Szeliga, Nacchio and other former
executives are accused of orchestrating massive financial
fraud at Qwest. The Securities and Exchange Commission has
said the fraud at Qwest occurred between April 1999 and
March 2002, allowing it to improperly report about $3
billion in revenue that later was restated.