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Nacchio: ‘It’s Life on Mars’
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog
By Dionne Searcey
September 27, 2013
Joseph Nacchio, the onetime high-flying telecom chief executive convicted of insider trading is out of prison. He’s shed some pounds and some hair; his post-incarceration look includes a shaved head and goatee.
Michael Rubenstein for The Wall Street Journal
and that he did the right thing when he says he stood up to the National Security Agency, which wanted to access the phone records of his customers at Qwest Communications International Inc.
invited the WSJ to his work release program at the firm of his
longtime friend, called the Robert D. Borteck, P.C. law firm in
“It’s life on Mars,” Mr. Nacchio, 64 years old, said last week of his incarceration. In prison, he made friends with convicted drug offenders names Spoonie and Juice.
Mr. Nacchio said he still believes his insider trading prosecution was government retaliation for rebuffing requests in 2001 from the NSA to access his customers’ phone records. But some of the evidence he said he wanted to use was deemed classified and barred from being introduced.
An NSA spokeswoman declined to comment.
While in prison Mr. Nacchio figures he read 180 books on topics from theology and philosophy to spy novels, and books by the Russian novelist Dostoyevsky.
The food was “terrible, terrible, terrible,” he said, noting that mostly just junk food was available in the commissary.
Mr. Nacchio, who is still waging a court battle over some aspects of his conviction, is unrepentant and emboldened.
“I never broke the law, and I never will,” he said. “I always made the best decisions I could based on what I thought was the right thing to do. So, no, I have no regrets.”
Mr. Nacchio wants bankers, hedge fund analysts and others facing potential prison sentences to know that they are better off cutting a deal to avoid incarceration and the hardship it brings on family members.
His advice for other executives entering prison: listen, don’t talk. Show empathy to others who aren’t as fortunate. Live in the moment.
And forge ahead, despite the setbacks, he said, quoting a saying he
learned from other inmates: “Rub it on your chest.”