The Association of U S West Retirees



Top U.S. attorney leaving the case
Cliff Stricklin got high marks as the leading prosecutor in the insider-trading trial, resulting in a conviction.
By Andy Vuong
Denver Post
Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The prosecutor who led the government's criminal-insider-trading case against former Qwest chief executive Joe Nacchio, which resulted in a conviction, is stepping down from the case.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Cliff Stricklin filed a motion Friday in Denver federal court to withdraw from the case, which is under appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stricklin has served in an advisory role during the appeal.  Stephan Oestreicher, an appellate attorney from the Justice Department's criminal division in Washington, D.C., is leading the appeal for the government.

Stricklin received high marks from legal experts for his work during the month-long trial.  He conducted the direct examination of one of the case's key witnesses -- former Nacchio right-hand man Afshin Mohebbi.  Stricklin also gave the final words to the jury in the rebuttal closing.

"He (Nacchio) chose to cheat in order to make a lot of money.  And the only thing that stands between him and that money is you.  You have the power to set the standards of justice in this community," Stricklin told jurors.

Nacchio was convicted in April on 19 counts of illegal insider trading connected to his sale of $52 million in Qwest stock.  He was acquitted on 23 other insider-trading charges.

He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Nacchio won the first battle on appeal when a three-judge panel in August granted his request to remain free on bail pending the appeal.

The decision indicated that Nacchio's attorneys identified at least one issue that raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in a reversal of the verdict, a new trial or a reduced sentence.  Oral arguments are set for Dec. 18.

Andy Vuong: 303-954-1209 or