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Late decision: "So traumatic"
21 days of trial.  45 hours of deliberations.  19 guilty counts.  1 life-changing day. 
By Tom McGhee, Christopher Osher and Kieran Nicholson, Staff Writers
Denver Post
Friday, April 20, 2007

As jurors gathered to deliberate Joe Nacchio's fate Thursday morning, some remained unconvinced of his guilt.

But by about 4 p.m. the four women and eight men had reached a unanimous decision:  Nacchio committed criminal insider trading when he sold stock after painting a glowing picture of Qwest during an April 2001 call with analysts -- even though his lieutenants had warned him repeatedly that deals propping up the company's revenues were drying up, juror Terrell Joseph Dye said Thursday.

"We felt he had months of information," Dye said.  "He had people telling him that those one-time sales were drying up.  We felt in good conscience it wasn't possible that he didn't know, not a man of that intelligence.  The fact is those one-timers were never divulged."  Investors should have been told that Qwest was unlikely to win many more of the deals, which produced only one-time revenues, so they could decide whether to buy the stock, Dye said. "We felt that to a common investor that was crucial information," he said.

Another juror, Doug Stoneman of Milliken, agreed:  Nacchio "started trading on April 26, and by that time it was impossible to ignore the fact that he had material nonpublic information, given the fact that this is a very sharp man.  He knows what he is doing;  he knows what the laws are."

The jury found guilt on counts 24 through 42 of the charges, which related to stock sales April 26 or after.

When they began deliberations a week ago, Dye said, jurors' opinions were widely divergent.

But on the last day, he said, all but two or three were convinced that Nacchio's stock sales were criminal.

"It was hard as hell to get to that point, to get everyone to agree," Dye said.  "We had good-faith arguments, but it was facts and common sense that ruled."

On Thursday, the discussion continued, with jurors once more poring over evidence.

"When we went over the facts, people changed their minds," Dye said.

Dye said he had changed his own mind several times during the days of discussion and debate in the jury room behind U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham's 10th-floor courtroom.

About 4:30 p.m. Thursday, jurors filed into the courtroom stone-faced and with eyes downcast.

But by the time Nottingham tolled the word "guilty" 19 times, three were in tears, and it was obvious that the decision they reached had come after wrenching deliberation.

"It has been so traumatic and so draining, I am just not ready to talk about it yet," said juror Meshell Lynn Bontz of Fort Collins.

The jury found Nacchio not guilty of the first 23 insider-trading counts.

As Nottingham read those not-guilty verdicts, Nacchio's son Michael sobbed audibly and bent forward, his face in his hands.  Michael's mother, Anne Esker, wrapped an arm across his heaving shoulders.

The bad news started coming in at the 24th count, when Nottingham uttered the first of a string of guilty pronouncements.

Michael sat bolt upright once the bad news started coming and remained stoic throughout the litany as his father stared at the jury.

Jurors left the courthouse by a rear door and were driven to their cars by courthouse personnel.

They crowded into two cars and left the parking lot on top of a Greyhound bus station across from the courthouse.  A member of the jury drove each car.

Juror David McCanless of Arvada declined to discuss specifics of the deliberations.  But he said, "the intelligence and the effort that my fellow jurors put into the work was far beyond anything I would have expected."

Staff writers Kimberly Johnson, Steve Raabe and Joey Bunch contributed to this report.

Staff writer Tom McGhee can be reached at 303-954-1671 or tmcghee@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_5709641