Nacchio's 'Defense-Lite' Strategy Backfires

The former Qwest executive never took the stand, and the jury's guilty verdict hinged on what he knew and when he knew it

He was a symbol of the go-go 1990s, a brash, tough-talking executive who appeared on magazine covers and pulled off one of the largest deals in the telecom industry, merging upstart Qwest Communications International (Q) with the lumbering local phone giant, U.S. West Communications, for $48 billion in 2000. But on Apr. 19, Joseph Nacchio was convicted on 19 of the 42 counts of insider trading brought against him, ending the era of high-profile white collar trials against American executives triggered by the 2000–02 stock market meltdown. The 57-year-old New Jersey resident—who will appeal the verdict—faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and $1 million on each of the counts, although the judge is likely to deliver a less harsh prison term. Sentencing in U.S. District Court in Denver has been set for July 27, and Nacchio was released on bond.

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