Nacchio's Stalling Tactics Tick Off Judge

Former Qwest CEO set to stand trial starting March 19

February 12, 2007

1 Min Read
Nacchio's Stalling Tactics Tick Off Judge

6:00 PM -- The federal judge presiding over the upcoming trial of former Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) chief executive Joe Nacchio finally blew his top last week at the dilatory pace of the proceedings. Chiding lawyers for both the defense and the prosecution for behaving like "petulant children in a sandbox," U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham instructed government attorneys to quit stalling and turn evidence over to the defense in a timely fashion, and dismissed a defense request for a 60-day delay as "backhanded and lame."

Nacchio's trial on 42 counts of criminal insider trading is set to begin March 19 -- meaning that, incredibly, the Qwest investigation has now taken more than a year longer than that of Enron, which went kerflooey almost six months after the events in which Nacchio and his cronies managed to drive the Denver-based telco almost into bankruptcy. The government charges that Nacchio sold $100.8 million in Qwest shares in early 2001, at a time when he knew the company was circling the financial drain.

Nacchio, 57, has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. His lawyers seem to be pursuing a rope-a-dope strategy: delaying the trial with frivolous and irrelevant filings long enough so that the events will have faded in potential jurors' minds. The defense has also reportedly claimed that, even as he was selling off big blocks of shares in his company, Nacchio had faith in Qwest because of big Pentagon contracts that he believed were coming. Those DoD deals, of course, never materialized. Now, apparently, Nacchio can't delay the time of reckoning much longer.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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