Depositions roll in Qwest suit
The civil fraud case against former execs had been idle during
Joe Nacchio's appeals.
By Andy Vuong
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Lee Wolfe. Greg Casey. Robin Szeliga.
The one-time Qwest officials helped the government land a
criminal insider-trading conviction against former chief
executive Joe Nacchio, providing key testimony at his trial in
They've resurfaced, this time in a 4-year-old civil fraud
lawsuit against five other former Qwest executives and
employees, including Nacchio.
A ruling in December allowed the defendants in the civil case to
interview Wolfe, Casey and Szeliga against the objections of the
Justice Department. The government wanted to delay their
depositions until after an appeals court ruled on Nacchio's
"At some point it is fundamentally unfair to suggest as months
go by, as recollections become fuzzier and fuzzier, these
defendants should have to sit on the sidelines," Magistrate
Judge Craig Shaffer said at a Dec. 9 hearing, according to a
The decision allowed the oft-delayed case to proceed, though it
is still at least a year away from going to trial, if at all.
The ruling also provided Nacchio ammunition for his latest bid
for a new trial on the insider-trading conviction.
The defendants in the civil case are Nacchio, former president
Afshin Mohebbi, former chief financial officer Robert Woodruff
and former accountants Frank Noyes and James Kozlowski.
The Securities and Exchange Commission accuses them of
fraudulently boosting Qwest's revenue by $3 billion from 1999 to
2002 and is seeking repayment of stock-sale profits and, in some
Szeliga, Wolfe and Casey were interviewed by defense attorneys
last month, according to Kozlowski's attorney, Kevin Evans.
Szeliga, a former chief financial officer who resides in the
metro area, was interviewed in
Denver. Wolfe, a former
investor-relations director, flew from his home in New Jersey to
for questioning. Casey, a former wholesale-sales chief,
was deposed at his attorney's office in
About 50 to 60 people have been interviewed in the civil case as
part of an evidence- gathering process called discovery.
"What's happened in discovery as far as my client is concerned
is pretty powerful," Evans said.
Evans said he plans to move for dismissal of the case against
Kozlowski in June, the deadline for such a request.
The depositions haven't been made public.
Nacchio was convicted on 19 counts of insider trading connected
to his sale of $52 million in Qwest stock in early 2001 and
sentenced to six years in prison.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Nacchio's conviction
and revoked his bail last month. On Wednesday, Nacchio asked a
U.S. District Court in Denver to continue the
bail pending his petition to the Supreme Court.
Andy Vuong: 303-954-1209 or
What's to come
• Depositions of key witnesses were conducted in February.
• Reports on potential expert witnesses are due in April.
• Summary judgment papers are due in June.
• Motion to dismiss by defendants is still pending.
• The earliest the case will go to trial is 2010, if at