Enron prosecutor on
Joe Nacchio team
Sean Berkowitz has role defending former Qwest CEO
By Keith Coffman, Special To Rocky
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The lawyer who prosecuted former Enron executives Kenneth Lay
and Jeffrey Skilling is now on the other side of the
white-collar crime legal fence -- defending former Qwest CEO Joe
Nacchio from civil fraud charges brought by the Securities and
Sean M. Berkowitz is named in court filings as a Nacchio defense
attorney in the SEC case, which accuses Nacchio and several
other former Qwest executives of misleading investors about the
regional telephone carrier's revenues and growth projections
between 1999 and 2001.
Berkowitz could not be reached for comment, and Nacchio's lead
attorney in the criminal case, Herbert Stern, said by telephone
from his New Jersey office that he wouldn't comment on
Berkowitz's role while the case is pending.
Nacchio, 59, was convicted in April 2007 in Denver federal court
on 19 counts of insider trading and sentenced to six years in
prison, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court
of Appeals overturned his conviction this year.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has asked for a full review of that
ruling by the entire 12-judge circuit. That decision is
pending, as is a decision on whether Nacchio will be retried
Berkowitz directed the Enron Task Force, a team of federal
prosecutors formed to prosecute wrongdoing by the Houston-based
energy company that collapsed in 2002. Berkowitz and his
team won convictions of Skilling and Lay on a host of security
fraud, conspiracy and insider trading charges in a highly
publicized trial in 2006.
Lay died at a home he owned in
before his sentencing, and his conviction was vacated.
Skilling is serving a 24-year sentence at a federal prison in Minnesota and is appealing his conviction and
Berkowitz left the Department of Justice shortly after the
Skilling and Lay trial to join the
office of the international law firm of Latham & Watkins.
Nacchio's lead appellate attorney, Maureen Mahoney, also works
at Latham & Watkins in its
Washington, D.C., office.
Another member of the Enron prosecution team, Cliff Stricklin,
who also was the lead prosecutor in the criminal case against
Nacchio, told the Rocky Mountain News that Berkowitz is a good
friend and a good lawyer.
"But a skilled lawyer doesn't matter as much as the quality of
the facts in a case," said Stricklin, who likewise left the
government to join the law firm of Holland & Hart in
No trial date will be set for the SEC civil case until all legal
matters surrounding Nacchio's criminal case are resolved.