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6/28/2010
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Former Qwest CEO Nacchio's Prison Sentence Reduced

With estimates of defense costs topping $70 million, Nacchio's attorneys indicated appeals will continue despite a reduction in fines and prison time.

In the latest chapter in the saga of Ex Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, his prison sentence has been reduced slightly as legal fees in his long-running case are beginning to look like a growing industry.

In the latest development in his case in the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, Nacchio's sentence was trimmed by two months and his fine reduced by $7.4 million on Thursday. Nacchio's attorneys have indicated he has run out of funds anyway, even as he continues his appeals. Earlier he lost a bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court review his case.

Nacchio's lawyers have indicated they will continue to appeal his conviction on insider trading. Citing legal experts, the Denver Post this week said the legal costs for Nacchio's defense could be as high as $75 million. Nacchio remains in prison in Pennsylvania facing another four or five years of incarceration.

Nacchio's case is the last of a series dating from the high tech insider scandals of the late 1990s and it shows no signs of coming to a conclusion. While Nacchio clings to hopes for new appeals, Qwest has gone on its own way, being acquired by CenturyTel for $10.6 billion. Qwest was the last to disappear of the former Baby Bells created in the breakup of the original AT&T more than two decades ago. The reconstituted AT&T and Verizon Communications are the two remaining former Bell companies.

Nacchio has been involved in complex negotiations with Qwest over payment of his legal bills, which have mounted over the years as his case has been mired in a series of appeals.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger ruled that Nacchio's sentence should be five years and 10 months -- a two-month reduction from his previous sentence. He has served slightly more than one year of his sentence.

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