Ex-Qwest CEO Nacchio Pleads to Return to Prison After Three-Week Road Trip

Former Qwest Communications International Inc. chief Joseph Nacchio traveled from a Pennsylvania prison in April to a Denver court seeking a reduction in his six-year sentence for insider trading.

Since then, the 60-year-old inmate claims he’s endured eight days in solitary confinement, a three-week road trip to prisons in the Midwest and upstate New York and a visit to a detention facility in Brooklyn where he’s been denied his medication, cannot receive visitors and hasn’t been told when he’s leaving, according to court filings by Nacchio’s lawyer.

While U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger in Denver ordered him at a May 4 hearing to be returned as “expeditiously as possible” to his prison in Pennsylvania, Nacchio said he “remains in transit with no indication when he will be returned,” according to a May 26 court filing.

Nacchio tried to avoid leaving his minimum-security prison camp in Minersville, Pennsylvania, in the first place. Then, when the judge said he had to be in court in person, Nacchio offered to arrange private transportation because a U.S. Marshals Service escort couldn’t be coordinated fast enough.

He ended up making the trip to Denver escorted by federal marshals, and when he appeared in court May 4, he told Krieger that he’d been kept in solitary confinement for eight of the previous nine days of travel.

At that hearing, Nacchio said that any further trips to Denver would force him to miss visits from his family, including his ill, 92-year-old mother. He also said he serves as a Catholic Eucharistic minister in prison and teaches Sunday services that don’t happen when he’s not there.

Shorter Sentence

After satisfying herself that Nacchio understood his rights and was satisfied with his lawyers, Krieger said he could skip future hearings on his bid for a shorter sentence.

Nacchio, of Rumson, New Jersey, was convicted in 2007 on charges he sold $52 million of stock in Denver-based Qwest in 2001 based on inside information. A federal appeals court said last year he must be resentenced because the trial judge incorrectly calculated his gains from stock sales.

After the May 4 hearing, the U.S. Marshals Service designated Nacchio a “low priority transfer,” according to his filing. He remained in Denver for nine days, was flown to Oklahoma City where he spent 11 days, and then flown to an Air Force base in Newburgh, New York, where he was removed from the plane and “told he would not be traveling to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, even though the plane would be,” according to the filing by his lawyer, Sean Berkowitz.

22 Hours

After 22 hours in transit, Nacchio was taken on May 24 to a detention center in Brooklyn, which Berkowitz described as “higher security” and “more dangerous” than the Minersville camp. Nacchio “was denied his medication for days, and cannot receive visitors,” according to the filing.

Berkowitz asked Krieger to order that Nacchio be transported the 150 miles from Brooklyn to his Pennsylvania prison by bus or car no later than today -- in time for visitation weekend.

Berkowitz declined to comment yesterday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshal Service in Denver didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The case is U.S. v. Nacchio, 1:05-cr-00545, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado (Denver).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net.

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