wants venue change
Defense says "reviled" former Qwest CEO can't receive fair
trial in Denver. The feds say the motion in the shares-fraud
case will be fought, while his team alleges damaging leaks
were made to the media.
By Greg Griffin, Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Former Qwest chief executive Joe Nacchio is "among the most
reviled figures in recent Denver history" and cannot receive
a fair trial here, his attorneys said this week.
They notified the court they will seek a change of venue --
not unexpected given the coverage his case has received and
similar efforts by other prominent white-collar defendants.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said the
government opposes a change of venue.
Venue changes are difficult to obtain. Former Enron
executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling tried unsuccessfully to
move their trial, now in progress, out of Houston.
"Chances are it won't get any traction," said Houston lawyer
Chris Bebel, a former federal prosecutor, of the Nacchio
effort. "It's something that routinely happens in cases
But in addressing the venue issue, Nacchio's defense team
continued its strategy of attacking the government's
In filings made in federal court Monday, his lawyers accused
the government of leaking information to the media. They
say the leaks resulted in Nacchio's being accosted by
reporters at Denver International Airport on Dec. 19 and the
next morning at the FBI's downtown office.
Nacchio's attorneys -- Herbert Stern of New Jersey and John
Richilano of Denver -- are seeking communications between
the government and the media that might support the
allegation. Bebel said they're unlikely to get any.
"The government twice tipped off the press as to Mr.
Nacchio's expected whereabouts, well knowing the
inflammatory publicity that would ensue, because no one else
had the information to give to the press," Nacchio's
They also accused U.S. marshals of improperly detaining
Nacchio after he posted a $2 million bond Dec. 20, then
"parading" him into the courtroom -- "in handcuffs,
coatless, tieless and beltless" -- when he should have been
Also in Monday's filings, Nacchio's defense team asked U.S.
District Judge Edward Nottingham to push the trial back to
June 2007. Nottingham has said he hopes to start the trial
before the end of this year.
Nacchio's counsel said the case is far too complex to try
this year and that the venue issue alone could take several
months to resolve.
A grand jury indicted Nacchio on Dec. 19 on charges that he
sold more than $100 million in Qwest shares in early 2001
while hiding from the public the company's dire financial
condition. Nacchio denies the charges and seeks to have
Staff writer Greg
Griffin can be reached at 303-820-1241 or