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Depositions of former Qwest execs delayed
Postponement due to uncertainty of Joe Nacchio's case
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Thursday, July 9, 2008

A defense attorney Wednesday described the Securities and Exchange Commission's civil fraud case against five former Qwest executives as in a "syrupy morass."

The sound bite by Kevin Evans, attorney for defendant James Kozlowski, a former Qwest accountant, came as depositions continue to be delayed because of the uncertainty of former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio's criminal case.

In a conference at Denver federal court, Federal Magistrate Craig Shaffer granted the request by the U.S. attorney's office to postpone for at least 65 days the depositions of former Qwest executives Afshin Mohebbi, Robin Szeliga, Lee Wolfe and Gregory Casey.

The four were key government witnesses in Nacchio's insider-trading trial last year.

Federal prosecutors, faced with a possible second criminal trial, don't want Nacchio's attorneys to gain an upper hand through information they may acquire during depositions in the civil case.

The defendants in the SEC civil-fraud case are Nacchio, Kozlowski, Mohebbi, former Qwest Chief Financial Officer Robert Woodruff and former accountant Frank Noyes.  All have denied the allegations.

In the meantime, all the parties are waiting to see whether the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the government's appeal of a three-judge panel's decision to throw out Nacchio's conviction and order a new trial.

"I wish I had some sense of what's going to happen to the criminal case," Shaffer lamented at one point during Wednesday's conference. or 303-954-5155