WASHINGTON – On February 14, 2019 and February 22, 2019, respectively, a federal district court entered final consent judgments against a former law firm partner and his neighbor, who were charged with making more than $1 million in illicit profits by insider trading around corporate announcements.
The SEC’s complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York on May 11, 2017, alleged that Walter C. Little accessed confidential documents on his law firm’s internal computer network related to at least 11 impending announcements involving law firm clients, none of which he personally advised or billed for services. Little then allegedly traded in advance of each announcement and often tipped his neighbor, Andrew M. Berke, with material nonpublic information so he could similarly trade in company stocks before the announcements were made publicly. According to the SEC’s complaint, the insider trading occurred from February 2015 to February 2016.
Previously, both Little and Berke pled guilty to parallel criminal charges. On February 22, 2018, Little was sentenced to 27 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay criminal forfeiture. On April 17, 2018, Berke was sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release, including four months of home detention, and ordered to pay criminal forfeiture.
The final judgments enjoin Little and Berke from violating Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder, as well as Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933. The judgment against Little deems his disgorgement obligation of $452,998 satisfied by his criminal forfeiture. The judgment against Berke deems his disgorgement obligation of $555,269 satisfied by a combination of his criminal forfeiture and a payment made to the Commission.
The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.