A federal grand jury indicted the managing clerk of the New York office of a prominent, international law firm for his alleged participation in a multi-year insider trading scheme that netted more than $5.6 million in illicit profits, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Steven Metro, 40, of Katonah, New York, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit securities and tender offer fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of tender offer fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2009 to 2013, Metro, who was then the managing clerk of the New York office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP (the “Law Firm”), one of the nation’s premier mergers and acquisitions firms, repeatedly provided material, nonpublic information to his friend and former law school classmate, Frank Tamayo, 41, of Brooklyn, New York. The inside information divulged by Metro to Tamayo related to corporate transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions or tender offers, in which the law firm represented a party or financial advisor to the transaction. As the firm’s managing clerk – a litigation-related function – Metro did not personally work on most of the corporate transactions at issue. In most instances, Metro allegedly stole the inside information by scouring the firm’s computer system using search terms such as “merger agreement,” “bid letter,” “engagement letter,” “due diligence,” as well as client names, client-matter numbers, or combinations thereof.
Metro then divulged the inside information to Tamayo in person, usually meeting at a bar, coffee shop, or other location near their respective workplaces in midtown Manhattan. During such meetings, Metro provided Tamayo inside information pertaining to, among other things, the names and/or ticker symbols of the companies whose securities should be purchased, the general timing of the planned deals, and information related to how the deals would affect the issuers’ stock price once announced. Tamayo generally would write the security’s ticker symbol on a small piece of paper or napkin and commit to memory any pricing/timing inside information provided by Metro.
After Tamayo received the inside information from Metro, Tamayo would meet with Vladimir Eydelman, 42, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, a professional stock broker. Tamayo usually would meet Eydelman near Eydelman’s workplace, such as at the large clock in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, where Tamayo would pass the inside information on to Eydelman. Tamayo would show Eydelman the paper or napkin on which Tamayo had written the ticker symbol of the company whose securities should be purchased. After Eydelman memorized the ticker symbol, Tamayo then would chew the paper or napkin until it was destroyed.
After receiving the inside information provided by Metro, whom Eydelman knew as Tamayo’s source at a law firm, Eydelman purchased securities for himself, family members, friends, and/or clients, including Tamayo. Eydelman quickly sold the shares and covered any positions once the relevant deal was publicly announced and the stock price rose.
Throughout the course of the five-year scheme, Tamayo reinvested the approximately $7,000 in profits that Metro made on the first deal and updated Metro on the running balance of his profits from the insider trading scheme. As of October 2013, by which time the conspirators had traded ahead of at least 13 planned corporate transactions, Metro’s share of the profits had reached approximately $168,000. Metro sought to cash out his share of the accrued profits from the insider trading scheme, pressing Tamayo to “liberate some cash” during a meeting in January 2014. Eydelman paid approximately $7,000 in cash to Tamayo in February 2014, with the expectation that Tamayo would use the cash to compensate Metro.
Tamayo, Metro and Eydelman netted more than $5.6 million in illicit profits over the course of the five-year insider trading scheme.
The conspiracy count with which Metro is charged carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The securities and tender offer fraud counts carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $5 million.