Nacchio's attorneys ask judge to delay trial
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
The Department of Justice has turned over witness interviews
that could help clear former Qwest chief executive Joe
Nacchio of some of the illegal insider trading charges
against him, defense attorneys said in a court filing
The filing also asked Judge Edward Nottingham to delay the
trial, set for March 19, by at least 60 days, so the defense
can review the new evidence.
Specifically, a Bear Stearns broker said he encouraged
Nacchio to cut his holdings in Qwest stock as early as July
The broker, Salvatore A. Tiano, also said he called Nacchio
between April 27, 2001, and May 15, 2001 -- which falls
within the time frame the government alleges Nacchio made
illegal insider trades -- to recommend that Nacchio lower
the "floor" price on his planned sale of Qwest stock that
was scheduled to begin on May 15, 2001. The floor price,
$38 a share at the time, was the lowest price Nacchio would
be willing to sell.
Tiano told the government Nacchio said he was "adamant" the
stock was a great buy at $38 and did not want to sell below
That is "inconsistent with the government theory that Mr.
Nacchio sold the stock on the basis of warnings that the
company would not meet its public guidance," Nacchio's
attorneys wrote in the filing.
Nacchio faces 42 counts of illegal insider trading connected
to his sale of $101 million in Qwest stock between Jan. 2,
2001, and May 29, 2001. The government alleges Nacchio sold
the stock while he knew the company's finances were
Nacchio has pleaded not guilty. He faces up to 10 years in
prison and a $1 million fine for each count.
"That could certainly be helpful evidence to him -- at the
very moment when he's supposed to be bailing out of the
stock, he's telling a broker, 'This is a great buy,"' said
Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law
School in Detroit. "The comeback is, what CEO is going to
say, 'my company is going into the tank?"'
Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department
in Colorado, declined comment.
The defense has complained the government is dragging its
feet in turning over evidence, an argument reiterated in
Tuesday's filing. Nacchio's attorneys said they received a
transcript of Tiano's interview on Friday. The interview
was done Nov. 15.
The government also recently gave the defense six CD-ROMs
containing thousands of documents to review, according to
the defense filing.
Staff writer Andy Vuong
can be reached at 303-954-1209 or