Former Qwest Senior Vice President Marc Weisberg entered a last minute plea deal and avoids both a trial on more serious charges scheduled to begin next week, and jail. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Weisberg plead to one count of wire fraud in exchange for two years of probation, to include 60 days of home detention. Weisberg also agreed to cooperate with the government through interviews and trial testimony, if requested. The government has said that with the indictment of Joe Nacchio, its investigation into Qwest is all but finished. From that, one can deduce that Weisberg will be coooperating against Nacchio. Weisberg was not charged with defrauding Qwest investors or with matters associated with its accounting practices. He was charged with having pressured Qwest vendors into letting him and family members invest in stock deals for his own benefit, thereby breaching his fiduciary obligation to Qwest. In other words, Qwest, not the public, was the victim.

[Procecutors initially] accused Weisberg of improperly earning $2.9 million for himself, family members and friends from 1999 to 2001 by demanding that vendors offer them shares in other companies in return for doing business with Qwest, the telephone provider for 14 mostly Western states.

But today, the government agreed to dismiss all charges, other than the one to which he pleaded guilty. In that count, the stock that Weisberg acquired later tumbled, and Weisberg incurred a loss of more than $500,000. Because he sold the stock at a loss, he will not owe restitution and he will not forfeit any of his property. He will, however, pay a $250,000. fine. This is a sweetheart deal for Weisberg. Does he have something big against Nacchio? If there’s another explanation, I’m all ears.