Joseph Nacchio, the former chief executive of Qwest Communications during the telecommunications company's multibillion-dollar accounting scandal, was indicted on 42 counts of insider trading for allegedly illegally selling more than $100 million in stock.

The indictment marks the first criminal charges brought against Nacchio during the federal government's investigation into accounting practices at Qwest, a telephone service provider in 14 mostly Western states.

In a statement, Nacchio said he would plead innocent to the charges. He and nearly a dozen former Qwest officials are also facing civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and several shareholder lawsuits.

The SEC has said that the fraud occurred between April 1999 and March 2002, allowing as much as $3 billion in revenue to be improperly reported as recurring, driving up the company's stock price as executives made millions selling off their own shares. Qwest eventually restated earnings from 2000 and 2001 to erase about $2.2 billion in revenues.

The No. 4 local telephone company in the country agreed to pay $250 million in 2004 to settle SEC fraud allegations. Nacchio resigned in June 2002 and has always maintained he did nothing improper .

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