DENVER — A federal judge on Wednesday granted defense lawyers more time to prepare for the criminal case against four former Qwest Communications International executives accused of fraud.
The four have pleaded not guilty to artificially inflating Qwest revenues to meet Wall Street targets. Each was accused in a 12-count indictment of seeking to create more than $33 million in revenue by wrongly reporting a purchase order with the Arizona School Facilities Board.
Four of the counts each carry a penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The others are punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Judge Robert Blackburn on Wednesday scheduled the trial for Feb. 17.
The defendants are Thomas Hall, John Walker, Bryan Treadway and Grant Graham.
Graham, 37, is former chief financial officer of Qwest's global business unit. Hall, 51, was a senior vice president in the unit. Treadway, 37, was a former controller. Walker, 41, was a vice president of sales.
Defense attorneys must file pretrial motions by Aug. 1, and the government must respond by Sept. 5.
A hearing on the motions was set for Nov. 7.
In an unrelated case on Thursday, Touch America Holdings Inc. was ordered to pay Qwest $59.6 million plus interest, a decision analysts said the cash-strapped Butte telecommunications company might not survive.
The two companies have been embroiled in a dispute over a June 2000 purchase of Qwest assets. Both claimed the other was coming up short on agreements, but an arbitrator ruled in favor of Qwest.
"Today's arbitration decision significantly increases the likelihood of bankruptcy for Touch America," said analyst Jim Bellessa.