Opening Statements Kick Off In Joe Nacchio Trial

Former Qwest Exec Accused Of Insider Trading

The insider trading trial of former Qwest executive Joe Nacchio began Tuesday after a federal jury was seated earlier in the day.

The last of the 12 jurors and six alternates were selected Tuesday morning, and opening statements began shortly after. The statements were expected to conclude sometime after 5 p.m.

In their opening statements, prosecutors told jurors, "the case was about cheating," and because of Nacchio, "the playing field was not level."

The 57-year-old is accused of improperly selling about $101 million worth of stock in 2001, based on internal, nonpublic information that the communications company was at financial risk.

The defense contended Tuesday that Nacchio believed in the company and made good faith projections. They said he reluctantly sold the Qwest stocks to diversify his holdings. They also made the point to jurors that Nacchio held onto some of the company's stocks in his childrens' names. They said his children lost about $3 million after the company's stock plummeted.

Nacchio resigned under pressure in 2002.

He could face 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine on each of the 42 counts against him, if convicted.

Twenty-five prospective jurors were excused Monday for various reasons. The selection process resumed Tuesday morning and had been going on for about an hour when the panel was completed.

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