Nacchio freed indefinitely; seeks high court review

DENVER Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:05pm EDT

Joseph Nacchio (L), the former chief executive of Qwest Communications International, leaves the Denver Federal Courthouse with his attorney Jeffrey Speiser after being sentenced in the Qwest case in Denver, Colorado, in this July 27, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

Joseph Nacchio (L), the former chief executive of Qwest Communications International, leaves the Denver Federal Courthouse with his attorney Jeffrey Speiser after being sentenced in the Qwest case in Denver, Colorado, in this July 27, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking/Files

DENVER (Reuters) - A judge in Denver on Friday set aside her previous order that former Qwest Communications International (Q.N) Chief Executive Joseph Nacchio report to prison on Monday after his attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his 2007 insider trading conviction.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger said she will decide at a later date when Nacchio must report to begin serving his six-year sentence at a minimum-security prison camp in Pennsylvania.

Krieger said she set aside her previous order because she is reviewing a petition Nacchio's lawyers submitted on Friday to the Supreme Court seeking its review of his conviction.

In the petition, Nacchio's attorneys argued he should be acquitted or given a new trial on the grounds that the trial court improperly excluded a key defense witness and because of errors made by the federal appeals court that reinstated Nacchio's conviction last month.

The lawyers also claimed the trial judge "openly displayed ethnic bias against the defendant and his counsel."

The petition asserted "the allegations against Nacchio would have been dismissed as a matter of law" in other federal appeals courts and that "the proper standard is a matter of great national importance and merits review."

(Reporting by Robert Boczkiewicz and Keith Coffman in Denver and Gina Keating in Los Angeles; Editing by Gary Hill)

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