of onlookers tastes vindication in sentence
"I just wanted to see his face," says a retiree who blames a
loss of $400,000 in Qwest stock on Nacchio
By Greg Griffin, Staff Writer
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Some came because they lost money in Qwest stock. Others
harbored anger over Qwest's takeover of US West in 2000. A few
were just curious.
More than 100 spectators packed two federal courtrooms in
downtown Denver Friday morning as former Qwest chief executive
Joe Nacchio was sentenced to serve six years in prison, forfeit
$52 million in ill-gotten gains and pay a fine of $19 million.
In April, a jury found Nacchio guilty of 19 counts of criminal
Outside, as Nacchio emerged from the courthouse with his family
and attorneys, a large crowd of onlookers awaited.
"I just wanted to see his face," said Judy Karns of Arvada, a
retired Qwest manager who dropped by the court Friday after
lunch with a few co-workers. Karns came for a bit of closure,
but she couldn't help thinking that Nacchio should have received
a stiffer sentence, "like 20 or 30 years," she said.
Karns said she lost $400,000 in her 401(k), which she blames on
"My retirement would have been a lot easier if I had that
money," she said. "He sold his shares and made money, but he
couldn't have cared less about the employees."
During the sentencing, Nacchio's attorneys focused on
mental-health issues facing the New Jersey resident's son. They
unsuccessfully argued that Nacchio should receive a reduced
sentence so he could care for his son.
Some in attendance felt sympathy for Nacchio's family.
"I have mixed feelings," said Mimi Hull, president of the
retirees association. "I am elated that justice has been done."
Charles Jude of Lakewood attended the sentencing after having
sat through three days of the month-long trial.
"I think it's a fair sentence," said Jude, 73, a retired
computer engineer from the mining industry who estimates he lost
$200,000 on Qwest stock. "He didn't have to do what he did."
"My concern is he doesn't somehow cut his time short because he
has money," Jude said.
Jude may receive money from the Securities and Exchange
Commission, which said Thursday that it plans to disburse $267
million, mostly from civil settlements with Qwest and other
former executives related to its accounting investigations.
Curtis Kennedy, an attorney for the retirees association,
arrived at the courthouse at 2 a.m. Friday with three lawn
chairs to make sure he got into the hearing.
"Bad karma will always come back and bite you," he said before
the hearing. "He's wrecked more lives than you can imagine.
And I see that because they came into my office like an
emergency room. He cut more people to make his numbers. It was
Daniel Morris of Aurora, who has no connection to Qwest,
attended on a whim.
"I had heard about it, so I came down," he said. "I thought, why
Staff writers Andy Vuong and Tom McGhee contributed to this
Staff writer Greg Griffin can be reached at 303-954-1241 or