The Association of U S West Retirees



Nacchio pretrial hearing delayed
Ex-Qwest CEO's claim he had classified info raises security issues
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Saturday, July 8, 2006

The next pretrial hearing in the criminal case against former Qwest Chief Executive Joe Nacchio has been delayed until Aug. 25 to complete the logistics for protecting classified government information in the case.  Nacchio, who faces 42 counts of insider trading in connection with the sale of $101 million of Qwest stock in the first five months of 2001, is arguing in part that he was privy to classified information that made him optimistic about Qwest's prospects for getting lucrative government contracts.

That possible defense has required special facilities and security clearances to be set up for attorneys and court staff to view the documents, even though some may be unclassified later on.

In a brief status conference Friday, U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham noted this is the first time he has handled a case where the defendant has asserted he possesses classified information, rather than trying to seek it from the government.

Nacchio's lead attorney, Herbert Stern, has said prefiously that Nacchio had access to such information in part through his role on a President Bush-appointed national security advisory council.

Nacchio, however, didn't obtain security clearances until March 2001, according to sources familiar with the situation.  Some legal experts consider Nacchio's defense to be a desperate ploy to delay the case, although they also say it is almost sure to complicate matters in terms of what evidence a jury is allowed to hear.  If the jury is prevented from hearing certain evidence, it could support an appeal should Nacchio be convicted of a crime.

Nottingham, who has not set a trial date, is expected to hear several pending motions on Aug 25, perhaps including motions to dismiss the case or change the location from Denver.

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