Former Qwest chief executive heads to jail

The outspoken former head of Qwest, who executed a bold merger between it and a local telephone company, has gone to prison.

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The outspoken former head of Qwest, who executed a bold merger between it and a local telephone company, has gone to prison.

Joseph Nacchio's last-ditch attempt to avoid jail failed when US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denied his application for bail and a temporary stay. That means he will await his appeal from prison.

Nacchio reported to prison at the Schuylkill Satellite Camp in Minersville, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday morning, the Department of Justice said.

It is barely a year since a jury found Nacchio guilty of 19 counts of insider trading and sentenced him to six years in prison. They found that while he was publicly forecasting strong growth for Qwest as chief executive in 2001, he was selling off his own stock in the company because he knew it was struggling.

The merger of Qwest and US West was a difficult one that required lengthy dealings with state and federal governments because it involved a local phone company. Nacchio and Sol Trujillo, then chief executive of US West, sometimes butted heads publicly as closing the deal dragged on.

Nacchio was also unpopular with some employees. He laid off thousands of workers after the merger and sometimes repeated the "US worst" nickname for US West, angering people who had worked for the local phone company for many years.

Nacchio was replaced as chief executive in 2002 as the company struggled under a crippling debt load and a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its accounting practices.

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