The Association of U S West Retirees



Qwest trial date nowhere on the horizon
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The governmentís civil fraud suit against six former Qwest executives isnít likely to go to trial until at least 2007, a federal magistrate judge said Wednesday as he tried to figure out a way for some discovery to go forward before memories of key events wane.  Much of the civil fraud suit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission last March has been frozen so it wonít interfere with the criminal insider-trading case against former CEO Joe Nacchio.

Some of the defendants in the civil case had agreed on a plan to conduct depositions this year of 12 people including outside auditors involved in accounting issues in the late 1990s underlying the SEC charges.

While federal Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer talked in length about his desire to try to preserve "fresh recollections," he questioned whether such depositions would move the case forward, especially if Nacchioís legal team or others decide they have to retake the depositions later.

"Iím not convinced this is the best use of time," Shaffer said, adding he is willing to revisit the issue in August.

Shaffer ultimately decided to allow only certain written discovery, or exchange of evidence, to go forward, most related to civil-fraud defendants James Kozlowski and Frank Noyes, both former Qwest accountants.

Others facing the civil-fraud charges are former chief operating officer Afshin Mohebbi, and former chief financial officers Robin Szeliga and Robert Woodruff.  Former top sales executive Gregory Casey already settled with the SEC.  The SEC accused the former executives of orchestrating a massive, $3 billion financial fraud between 1999-2002.,2777,DRMN_23910_4487782,00.html