The Association of U S West Retirees



Ex-workers are among spectators
By Will Shanley, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Friday, March 23, 2007

Rich Mahan retired from Qwest in 2001 as a manager of field technicians.

But his bond with the company forged during 38 years of work has not diminished.

"I'm going to be down here every day," Mahan, 60, said Thursday during a break in the Joe Nacchio insider-trading trial.  "I want to see justice done.  I had a lot of friends who were hurt by this guy."

A handful of other former Qwest employees have also come to see Nacchio on trial.  A trio of metro-area law students are attending at the direction of their professor.

Bruce Conant, a retired government worker, came to see the big names during the trial.

"It is the case and the personalities," said Conant, 57, who said he earned a law degree but never practices.  "Where else will I get to see (Philip) Anschutz?"  Anschutz, the Denver-based financier and Qwest founder, is expected to be called as a defense witness.

Conant said he also wanted to see lawyer Herb Stern, the former federal prosecutor and judge who is heading Nacchio's defense team.

"I wanted to see him in action," said Conant, of Denver.  "He's supposed to be one of the best ever."

For law students such as Leena Gagnon, the trial provides a window n the profession.

"It's a huge case, and it's exciting to see," said Gagnon, 25, a first-year law student at the University of Denver.

Gagnon said one of her law professors requires students to attend trials.  She said most hearings in other cases she had attended "were boring."

"This seems more like what you'd see on Court TV, Gagnon said.

"I hope to see Nacchio have to pay," said Roseanna Stowits, who said she was laid off from Qwest in February.  She spoke outside the 10th-floor courtroom of the Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse in downtown Denver.

Stowits said Thursday was her first day watching the trial.  She said she expected there would be more former Qwest workers at the courthouse.

"Maybe people lost so much money (because of Nacchio) that they have to go to work and can't come here," joked Stowits, 54, who said she worked at Qwest for 28 years, most recently in information technology.

About two dozen spectators not directly connected to the case are showing up each day for the trial, which started this week and could last two months.

A total of 23 "general public" passes and 12 media passes were available for courtroom spectators Thursday.  About a dozen more people watched the trial via flat-panel TVs set up in an overflow room, a courtroom on the seventh floor.

Staff writer Will Shanley can be reached at 303-954-1260 or