Qwest Executive's Lawyer Says Others Involved in Fraud

The Associated Press

Sep. 8, 2005 - An attorney for a former Qwest executive charged with fraud and money laundering said in a court filing that others in the company engaged in the same conduct alleged in the indictment, and that the company knew about it and authorized it.

Marc B. Weisberg, a former Qwest Communications International Inc. senior vice president who oversaw mergers, acquisitions and investments, was indicted in February by a federal grand jury on eight counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.

Prosecutors allege Weisberg made $2.9 million for himself, family members and friends between 1999 and 2001 by demanding that vendors offer them stock in return for doing business with the company.

The government wants Weisberg to forfeit $2.9 million and other assets.

Weisberg has pleaded innocent.

His lawyer revealed what may be part of the defense strategy in a document filed in federal court on Sept. 1.

"Weisberg will demonstrate that many individuals at Qwest engaged in conduct similar or perhaps even identical to his own, that Qwest knew of the conduct alleged in the indictment, and that Qwest authorized investments that the government now contends victimized Qwest," the filing said.

The government began investigating the telecommunications giant for fraud starting in 2002. Last month, former chief financial officer Robin Szeliga pleaded guilty to one count of insider trading, becoming the highest-ranking one-time executive to admit wrongdoing.

She will be sentenced Nov. 4. Her plea agreement recommends a term of

15 months to 21 months. She agreed to pay $125,000 in restitution and to cooperate with prosecutors.

Thomas Hall pleaded guilty in September to falsifying documents and was sentenced to probation. Grant Graham has pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to wire fraud and is expected to receive probation. John Walker and Bryan Treadway were acquitted in April of charges including fraud and conspiracy.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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