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Stern's tales help Nacchios fill time
Ex-Qwest exec seems relaxed as he awaits verdict
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio and his family have filled time in part by listening to stories from one of the defense attorneys as they await the verdict in his insider-trading case.  Nacchio's attorneys have continued to work as well, arguing in motions that Judge Edward Nottingham's rulings thwarted their ability to put on their much- vaunted classified information defense asserting Qwest was poised to win secret government contracts.

Criminal defendants have different ways to keep busy as they anxiously wait the outcome that could decide whether they'll be sent to prison.  Nacchio faces up to 10 years of prison.

Former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling, who was convicted, reportedly worked out, caught up on reading and helped his attorneys box up files.  Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, acquitted during a 2005 fraud trial, got support from his "prayer warriors."

The late Thomas Hall, a former Qwest executive on trial in 2004, watched videos with his wife.  Hall died in Chicago on March 19, the first day of Nacchio's trial.

Nacchio seemed relaxed during his appearances at the federal courthouse soon after jurors began deliberating Thursday morning.  He chatted amiably with reporters Thursday afternoon about his accommodations and service at the Grand Hyatt at 17th and Welton streets.

When the family came back Friday afternoon to see the jury dismissed for the weekend, Nacchio and his son Michael said they had spent more than four hours listening to lead defense attorney Herbert Stern talk about legal history, including a military tribunal in Berlin that Stern presided over as a federal judge.  That criminal case, arising out of a hijacked airplane forced down in West Berlin in 1978, was turned into a movie starring Martin Sheen as Stern.

Nacchio and his son characterized Stern's stories as "fascinating," and Michael, a Georgetown University graduate, commented about how it would be helpful to him as he decided whether to go to law school.

The Nacchios also have attended Mass at the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, a historic church at 19th and California streets.  But it was unclear whether they've attended Mass since jury deliberations started.

Nacchio has said he considered it a good sign his trial started on the Feast of Saint Joseph.  The Holy Ghost church has a statue in front honoring another Joseph -- Joseph Machebeuf, a missionary who became Colorado's first Catholic bishop in 1868.

It would be normal if Nacchio were anxious, or even second-guessing whether he should have testified.  Nacchio seemed less relaxed Monday afternoon, as jurors were dismissed after a third day of deliberations. or 303-954-5155. Staff writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report.,2777,DRMN_23910_5488570,00.html