Los Angeles Dodger and Baltimore Oriole Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray agreed in August to pay $358,151 to settle a federal lawsuit tied to an insider-trading tip he received from his buddy and former teammate Doug DeCinces.
On Wednesday, the former Oriole and California Angel third baseman, who resides in Laguna Beach, and three associates were named in a 44-count federal indictment that dangles possible prison time over the trio.
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DeCinces, 60, the president and CEO of the Irvine real estate development firm DeCinces Properties; his friend and business partner David Parker, 60, of Provo, Utah; friend and real estate attorney Fred Scott Jackson, 65, of Newport Beach; and friend Roger Wittenbach, 69, of Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland, allegedly bought stock in Advanced Medical Optics after receiving a non-public tip that the Santa Ana-based medical device and eye care company was about to be taken over by pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories. When that happened in January 2009, the value of Advanced Medical stock shot up dramatically, from $8 to $22 a share.
Without admitting the facts of the case are true or false, DeCinces last year paid $2.5 million to settle claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission related to the same transaction. Murray's settlement also settled claims by the SEC, but the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles says the slugger is not charged in the current indictment, which is based on an investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service, with the assistance of the SEC.
A U.S. Attorney's office statement identifies the person who provided the initial tip to DeCinces only as “a close friend” and Advanced Medical “officer.” But the tipster was outed in the Murray case as DeCinces' friend and neighbor James Mazzo, the chairman and CEO of Advanced
Medical Optics at the time of the acquisition by Abbott Laboratories.
DeCinces is accused of buying up Advanced Medical stock after a series of meetings and phone calls with his friend. He even liquidated his diverse stock portfolio at Merrill Lynch at a hefty loss to come up with the cash, according to the indictment, which accuses him of buying 90,700 shares that he sold at a $1.3 million profit shortly after the Abbott acquisition.
He is further accused of sharing his tip with Parker, Jackson and Wittenbach to help make up for prior investment recommendations “that had gone bad,” according to the indictment. The alleged illegal profits were $347,920 for Parker, $140,259 for Jackson and $201,692 for Wittenbach.
DeCinces is charged with 42 counts of securities fraud and one count of money laundering. Parker and Jackson are each charged with six counts of securities fraud, while Parker additionally faces one count of money laundering. Wittenbach is charged with four counts of securities fraud. With a conviction, each count could result in a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
The four pals are scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Dec. 17.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.