former employees feel no sympathy
By Kimberly S. Johnson and Aldo Svaldi, Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Past and present Qwest
employees said Tuesday's indictment of former chief
executive Joe Nacchio brought to justice the man they blame
for sinking the company's stock, reputation and retirement
"I have been waiting years for this," Qwest project manager
Paul Gabriel said. "He destroyed the company."
As employees at Randy Ehle's Qwest office in northwest
Denver received news of the indictment, the mood was
"greatly improved," he said.
"There were a lot of smiles on people's face," the
remote-installation technician said. "It was just relief;
everyone was waiting for this decision for quite a while,
just to get some closure."
However, Qwest employee Cory Parsons said he expected that
federal prosecutors will have their work cut out for them.
"It will be difficult to prove criminal wrongdoing," Parsons
said. "I don't think he knew the telecom market would
collapse the way it did."
Nacchio was indicted on 42 counts of illegal insider
trading, which allegedly netted him $100.8 million between
January and May 2001. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years
in prison on each charge and forfeiture of his gains.
"It's still a small price for him to pay. I lost a fairly
large amount," said retiree Norman Smith of Leawood, Kan.,
who declined to say how much money he lost in Qwest. "It's
almost mind-boggling. It's sad to say that for that kind of
robbery he would get a maximum of 10 years (per count).
For many retirees, there is little closure because they've
had to readjust their lifestyles to compensate for 401(k)
plans that suffered when Qwest's stock plunged from more
than $60 a share to $2. It closed Tuesday at $5.65, down 12
"It is the innocent -- the employees, investors and customer
-- who are now paying the price for Nacchio's mishandling of
the company as Qwest works leaner, and harder, to overcome
the devalued ratings and the government penalties," said
Roger W. Hancock, a Qwest employee in Auburn, Wash. "I am
still employed at Qwest, but the uncertainty of life after
retirement still looms."
"With 29 years of service, I am eligible to retire but am
unable to do so, at least partly due to the lowered values
in the retirement plans," Hancock said.
Employees and shareholders questioned what they would
receive from the indictment, besides vindication, should
Nacchio be convicted.
"It doesn't go to the people who purchased his shares. They
should be deserving of it to cover their losses,"" said
Denver shareholder advocate Gerald Armstrong. "He (and his
conduct are) a problem for the company's image and the whole
picture of the past operations. It's a black eye for
Qwest technician Rick Chalmers described outrage over what
happened to the old U S West after it merged with Qwest in
U S West was one of the original seven "Baby Bells" spun off
from AT&T Corp. in the early 1980s.
"We were finally able to take down a corrupt individual,"
Chalmers said of Tuesday's indictment.
Qwest analyst Albert Greuter said Nacchio should pay back
more than what federal prosecutors are seeking, if he is
Greuter said he would like to see Nacchio give up all the
stock profits he earned during his association with Qwest.
"This will close another chapter and let the company go
forward," Greuter said.
Staff writer Aldo Svaldi
can be reached at 303-820-1410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff writer Kimberly S. Johnson can be reached at
303-820-1088 or email@example.com