California man accused of securities fraud

A California man was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on securities fraud in connection with Disney's acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, whose roster of super hero characters includes Spider-Man. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / June 26, 2013)

A California man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of securities fraud in connection with the Walt Disney Co.'s $4-billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.

Toby G. Scammell, 28, allegedly learned confidential details of the planned transaction from his girlfriend, who had been working on a six-month externship in Disney's corporate strategy department in the months leading up to the deal. 

The indictment alleges Scammell acquired call options in Marvel, based on non-public information he had gleaned that Disney planned to offer about $50 a share to buy the comic book publisher.  The transaction was expected to take place prior to Labor Day 2009. These options which would entitle him to purchase the company's stock at a later date, at prices ranging from $40 to $45.  

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The day Disney disclosed its planned acquisition to the public, Marvel's stock vaulted 25% to $48.37, from the prior day's close of $38.65.

After the public announcement, Scammell allegedly placed orders to sell all his Marvel options; realizing a profit of approximately $192,497, according to the indictment. Scammell realized a 3,000% return on his initial $5,465 investment, the indictment alleges.

The indictment, handed down Tuesday by a Los Angeles federal grand jury, alleges Scammell "knowingly obtained, possessed and misappropriated material non-public information ... for his own personal benefit and profit."

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed insider trading charges against Scammell in 2011. 

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dawn.chmielewski@latimes.com