Former Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces was indicted Wednesday, along with three friends, by a federal grand jury in California on securities fraud charges, for allegedly cashing in on inside information about the acquisition of an Orange County medical company, prosecutors said.
The criminal indictment is the latest fallout related to the acquisition, which previously resulted in DeCinces and Hall of Fame former Oriole Eddie Murray — who was not named in Wednesday's indictment — paying civil settlements to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year and in August, respectively.
DeCinces, who paid $2.5 million to settle the civil case last year but did not admit to any wrongdoing, should not have been charged criminally, his attorney, Gordon A. Greenberg, said in a statement.
"To put it mildly, we do not agree with the decision to bring a criminal case against Doug DeCinces," Greenberg said. "But the proper place to have this resolved is in the courtroom and not on the courthouse steps."
Greenberg declined to be interviewed.
Prosecutors said settlements in civil cases do not prevent criminal charges from being brought in the same matter, and securities fraud cases are often litigated on parallel civil and criminal tracks.
Like the SEC claims, the criminal indictment alleges that DeCinces and his three friends benefited financially in 2008 from publicly trading stock in Advanced Medical Optics Inc., based on inside knowledge from a high-ranking official at the company that it was about to be acquired by Abbott Laboratories, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
It claims that DeCinces, 62, a third baseman with the Orioles for parts of nine seasons and now the president and CEO of a real estate development firm in Irvine, bought significant stock in the company — 90,700 shares in total — then saw a windfall in returns when the company's stock price per share jumped from $8 to $22 following the acquisition. He allegedly shared the information with three friends who did the same, the indictment claims.
The indictment does not name the Advanced Medical source of the information, though the SEC filings in civil court indicated that the source was James V. Mazzo, a former chairman and CEO of the company. The indictment alleges that DeCinces and the source "were neighbors, were members of the same golf club, and vacationed together," and that they talked often in the days leading up to the sale of Advanced Medical to Abbott.
Prosecutors said DeCinces walked away with $1.3 million in illegal profits; David Parker, 60, of Provo, Utah, with $347,920; F. Scott Jackson, 65, of Newport Beach, Calif., with $140,259; and Roger Wittenbach, 69, a Baltimore County businessman, and his sister with $201,692 and $13,214, respectively.
DeCinces is charged with 42 counts of securities fraud — 21 counts of insider trading and 21 counts of tender offer fraud — as well as one count of money laundering, prosecutors said.
Parker and Jackson are each charged with three counts of insider trading and three counts of tender offer fraud, while Parker also faces one count of money laundering.
Wittenbach is charged with two counts of insider trading and two counts of tender offer fraud. He was not available at his home in the Lutherville-Timonium area Wednesday night to discuss his indictment, a woman who answered the phone there said.
Efforts to reach Parker and Jackson on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Jackson and Wittenbach previously reached settlements in civil cases with the SEC as well, for more than $293,000 and $422,300, respectively. Parker was also sued, but did not settle.
Each security fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison; the money-laundering counts each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison.
All four defendants have been summoned to be arraigned in Santa Ana, Calif., on Dec. 17.
Murray agreed to pay the SEC more than $350,000 to settle the civil case this past summer but did not admit to any wrongdoing. His attorney, Michael J. Proctor, said Wednesday that he does not expect Murray to be charged criminally.
"They made a decision not to charge Eddie, and we think that was the right decision," Proctor said. "I don't think he committed a crime, and we told that to the U.S. attorney's office. We're saddened by the indictment, but we're glad Eddie has not been charged."
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