Nacchio Seeks New
Trial; Filing Faults Prosecutors
By Dionne Searcey
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, March 6, 2009
Days after an
appellate court upheld the insider trading conviction of former
Qwest Communications International Inc. Chief Executive Joseph
Nacchio, his lawyers are asking for a new trial, saying
prosecutors mischaracterized testimony from a key government
Mr. Nacchio's attorneys filed a motion in federal court in Denver late Thursday night saying prosecutors'
interpretation of former Chief Financial Officer Robin Szeliga
was, essentially, "flat wrong," according to the filing.
Two years ago, Mr. Nacchio was convicted of 19 counts of insider
trading for selling $52 million in stock in 2001 as he knew his
Denver-based telecom company's finances were faltering. He
was sentenced to six years in prison but has been out on bail
while his lawyers fight the conviction. He has been
ordered to report to a minimum-security federal prison in Minersville, Pa.,
on March 23.
Mr. Nacchio has long contended he sold the stock as part of an
announced plan that had nothing to do with the state of Qwest's
finances. Last year a federal appellate panel tossed out
the conviction, saying the trial judge had wrongly excluded an
expert witness. But last week the full 10th Circuit Court
of Appeals upheld his conviction. Mr. Nacchio's attorneys
have said they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his
Court documents filed Thursday say Mr. Nacchio has asked the
Department of Justice for a new trial. A Justice
Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
"Joe Nacchio has had his case reviewed as much as any defendant
and probably more," said Cliff Stricklin, who was lead
prosecutor in the trial and now works for the law firm of
Holland & Hart in Denver. "It's time for him to begin
serving his sentence."
Mr. Nacchio's appellate attorney, Maureen Mahoney, declined
comment. But in the filing, she draws upon testimony that
former Qwest Chief Financial Officer Ms. Szeliga gave recently
during a Securities and Exchange Commission case related to the
company's financial problems. According to the filing, Ms.
Szeliga's SEC testimony indicates the prosecution's
interpretations of her trial testimony made to the jury were
During Mr. Nacchio's trial Ms. Szeliga testified she had told
him that the company expected certain revenue shortfalls.
However, much testimony centered on whether she was referring to
shortfalls in the revenue target given to the public as guidance
or a more aggressive internal target. If it was the
latter, Mr. Nacchio would have less incentive to sell off his
stock, his attorneys have argued.
Her testimony was ambiguous, and Mr. Nacchio's attorneys say
prosecutors misinterpreted it. In the separate SEC case,
Ms. Szeliga made clear that she meant the internal target, the
Write to Dionne Searcey at