Qwest's Joe Nacchio Convicted of 19 Counts of Insider Trading

The jury returned guilty verdicts Thursday on 19 of 42 counts of insider trading against former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio.

I can't imagine sitting through the verdict, hearing 23 counts of "not guilty" one by one, only to be followed by 19 counts of guilty. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster.

As to my thoughts on the verdict, I've blogged the trial over at 5280.com and my analysis is here.

In a nutshell,

Update: The Monday morning quarterbacking begins. Now that I've had a chance to digest the news and see what counts he was convicted of, I don't agree with those who say Nacchio taking the stand would have made a difference.

It's clear from Herb Stern's comments that Judge Nottingham wasn't going to allow Nacchio to testify about secret government contracts. That's the area where he could have most effectively disputed the government's allegations. The defense only put on a few witnesses because after the Judge's rulings, they were limited in what they could bring out.

The jury, in rejecting the Government's charges before April, 2001, didn't buy several of the Government's arguments, particularly the one that he backdated a document. Clearly, April, 2001 was a turning point for them. That's when the Government's witnesses, such as Greg Casey, testified Qwest had "drained the pond" of one time transactions, a point prosecutor Colleen Conry made over and over in closing. Witnesses testified that if Qwest didn't make its numbers by April, it probably wouldn't be able to recover by the end of the year. And there was testimony that Nacchio didn't think this should be shared with analysts.

If you look at the dates and quantities of stock Nacchio sold in the Indictment, there was a clear jump in April, 2001. Whereas in February and March, his stock sales were of 11,500 shares, in April they jumped to 350,000 and 300,000 shares.

The verdict signifies that the jury could believe Nacchio was optimistic about the company in the first quarter of 2001, but not after that. Beginning in April, they found, his sales were based in significant part on material non-public information -- information that Qwest wasn't going to meet its targets -- and that he acted with an intent to defraud.

The most critical issue for Nacchio now is how to convince Judge Nottingham to grant him bond pending appeal. That's going to be a tough sell.

Having sat through many days of testimony at the trial, I wouldn't have convicted. I had a reasonable doubt. Nacchio seemed to me to be very committed to Qwest and an aggressive go-getter. I thought he really didn't believe what his underlings were telling him. He had several legitimate reasons to sell his stock. But as usual, when things go south, there's got to be a fall guy.

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    The new liberal line (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:52:05 AM EST
    "Oh let him keep his job. They'll just replace him with someone just like him.

    So it goes. This site has gone soft.

    not a question of soft (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 10:57:39 AM EST
    this site has always been  a criminal defense oriented site. That's its focus and the lens through which all proceedings are viewed.