Ex-Qwest Exec Tom Hall to Plead Guilty in Accounting Scandal

Former Qwest Communications Inc. (Q) executive Tom Hall, who was scheduled to go on trial next month on charges stemming from an accounting scandal, will plead guilty, his attorney said on Friday.

Hall, a former senior vice president at the Denver-based regional telephone company, was the last of four former Qwest managers still to go on trial for conspiring to illegally boost Qwest revenues.

Hall's decision comes a week after it was reported that Qwest, the No. 4 U.S. regional telephone company, had agreed to settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (search) in a civil probe over improper accounting. Qwest had not been charged in the criminal case.

"Tom Hall advises this court that a disposition has been reached in this matter. The defendant requests that this matter be set for a change of plea hearing," Hall's attorney, Jeff Springer, wrote to the court. Hall had previously plead not guilty.

The filing occurred just minutes before lawyers were to meet in court for a final pretrial hearing before Hall's Oct. 4 trial date.

Springer declined to disclose any specifics of what his client will plead to, but said Hall was glad to get the matter behind him.

Prosecutor William Leone declined to comment until the plea agreement is finalized. Nor would he say whether Hall had agreed to cooperate with the government. Leone did say the investigation was continuing.

Hall and three other Qwest former managers went on trial earlier this year on charges of boosting revenues for the second quarter of 2001 by more than $33 million from a deal to wire Arizona schools to the Internet. The quarter was a period of weak sales for Qwest.

The jury acquitted two of the defendants on all charges, but were deadlocked on charges against Hall and another defendant, who later pleaded guilty to one charge.

Hall was re-indicted by a federal grand jury in June on four counts, compared to the 12 counts he had faced in the first trial.