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4/13/2009
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Ex-Qwest Chief Nacchio Ordered To Prison

Nacchio was convicted of unloading Qwest stock with inside knowledge that the company's business was deteriorating.

With all his efforts to avoid serving a prison sentence exhausted, former Qwest Communications CEO Joseph Nacchio is scheduled to begin serving a six-year term in a Pennsylvania prison Tuesday.

Convicted on insider stock trading charges by a Denver jury nearly two years ago, Nacchio sought to stay out of prison through a series of legal moves that included a retrial. However, his latest plan to appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court failed to delay the start of his sentence when U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger ruled Nacchio's petition to the high court wasn't likely to "result in a reversal of his conviction, a new trial, or abrogation of his sentence."

Nacchio is the last high-tech executive of the late 1990s telecommunications bubble to head to prison, joining other convicted luminaries of the period including Bernie Ebbers of MCI WorldCom and Alberto Vilar, whose once high-flying Amerindo Investment Advisors crashed.

A former AT&T executive, Nacchio took over the helm at Qwest in the late 1990s and ran the Denver-based company primarily from his native New Jersey. In his jury trial, he was accused of unloading $52 million of Qwest stock with inside knowledge that the company's business was deteriorating. The jury convicted him on 19 counts and acquitted him on 23 counts. Nacchio denied the charges and complained that testimony concerning the National Security Agency had been excluded from his jury trial. Nacchio maintained that Qwest's refusal to cooperate in some NSA work would have helped his case.

Qwest, which acquired US West in 2000, was always one of the smallest of the former regional Bell operating companies created when the old AT&T was broken up more than two decades ago. The company's small size -- it has less than one-tenth the revenue of the other two remaining Bell system survivors, Verizon Communications and the reconstituted AT&T -- have made it an acquisition candidate.


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