- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

DENVER (AP) — During the period when former Qwest Communications Chief Executive Officer Joe Nacchio is accused of illegally selling stock, he wanted to resign from the company because one of his sons attempted suicide, Qwest founder Phil Anschutz testified yesterday.

“He was quite agitated, very emotional. In fact, he broke down in tears,” Mr. Anschutz told jurors as the first defense witness in Mr. Nacchio’s insider trading trial. “I was quite surprised of the news of his son and further surprised by the fact that he would want to resign from the company.”

The publicity-shy Denver billionaire, who hired Mr. Nacchio to turn Qwest into a major telecommunications company, said Mr. Nacchio took time off but soon returned to work.

“We didn’t spend any time talking about compensation or about him staying at Qwest. We talked about his son,” Mr. Anschutz said of conversations in January 2001. “It was a matter of some days. A couple of weeks. I don’t recall.”

The judge agreed earlier yesterday to permit Mr. Anschutz’s testimony, which is designed to give jurors an idea of Mr. Nacchio’s state of mind at the time of the $101 million in stock sales that are the subject of the 42 insider-trading counts against him.

Defense attorney John Richilano told U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham that Mr. Nacchio could have walked away without exercising stock options coming due that year. He said a “state of mind to cheat and fraud pales in significance to what was going on with his son.”

Over the prosecution’s objection, Judge Nottingham allowed the testimony.

Mr. Nacchio’s attorneys have said it will not take long to present his defense.

“We anticipate our entire case to be a day and a half,” Mr. Richilano said.

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