The Association of U S West Retirees



Observers await result of Nacchio appeal
The decision of a three-judge panel could come any day. The ex-Qwest CEO was found guilty last April.
By Andy Vuong
Denver Post
Friday, March 7, 2008

Nearly a year after the criminal insider-trading trial of former Qwest chief executive Joe Nacchio, jurors, shareholders and retirees are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the appeal on his conviction.

A decision could be forthcoming any day, although there is no time limit for an appellate review.  The three-judge panel, which heard oral arguments in December, can uphold the conviction, grant Nacchio a new trial or acquit him on all charges.

Most of the trial's 12 jurors and six alternates have kept in close contact since the verdict was rendered last April, said juror Anna Garduno.

They created a Nacchio jury e-mail list and reach out to one another often, sharing stories about their families.  More recently, they've asked for updates on the case. Garduno said she would be disappointed if the verdict were reversed.

"For all 12 of us, more like 18, it would feel like a waste of a good six weeks," Garduno said.  ". . . It wasn't like we just went in there and made our decision.  We were in there for a few days."

Alternates sat through the entire month-long trial in Denver federal court.  The 12 jurors deliberated for six days before convicting Nacchio on 19 counts of illegal insider trading connected to his sale of $52 million in Qwest stock.  They acquitted him on 23 other charges.

Nacchio, 58, was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $71 million in forfeitures and fines.  He has appealed his sentence and remains free on $2 million bond.

"I've been out talking to several retiree groups, and it's almost always the first question that I get:  'What's happening with the Nacchio case?' " said Mimi Hull, president of the Association of U S West retirees.

Under Nacchio, Qwest acquired U S West in June 2000, and the combined company nearly crumbled into bankruptcy two years later.

U S West retiree Betty Vigil said she often discusses the case with fellow retirees.

"I have a lot of friends who are always rehashing this," said Vigil, of Longmont.

During oral arguments, the appellate panel focused on two points:  the exclusion of defense expert testimony and whether the inside information Nacchio sold stock on the basis of was "material," or important enough that it legally had to be disclosed publicly.

If the panel determines the expert was wrongfully excluded, Nacchio gets a new trial.  A ruling that the information was not material would acquit Nacchio on all charges.

Andy Vuong: 303-954-1209 or