U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 20303 / September 27, 2007
SEC v. Marlin S. Hershey, Civil Action No. 3:07-CV-409 (W.D.N.C.)
Securities and Exchange Commission Charges Individual With Insider Trading in LendingTree Securities
Today the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina against Marlin S. Hershey for illegal insider trading and tipping in connection with the securities of LendingTree, Inc. LendingTree is a financial services company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Commission's complaint alleges that, shortly before the May 5, 2003, public announcement that LendingTree was being acquired by USA Interactive at a substantial premium to LendingTree shareholders (the "Announcement"), Hershey was tipped material, nonpublic information concerning the pending acquisition by his friend and business associate, Brian G. Paquette, then LendingTree's Vice President of Product Management. The complaint alleges that, while in possession of this material, nonpublic information, Hershey purchased LendingTree stock, and tipped this inside information, either directly or indirectly, to at least three business associates who also purchased LendingTree stock. According to the complaint, after the Announcement, the price of LendingTree stock soared, and Hershey and his tippees sold their LendingTree shares, realizing illicit profits of approximately $14,078 and $74,516, respectively.
Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Hershey consented to the entry of a final judgment that permanently enjoins him from future violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. The final judgment also requires Hershey to disgorge his own illegal trading profits of $14,078, plus prejudgment interest, and to pay a civil penalty of $88,594, which is an amount equal to the combined illegal trading profits of Hershey and his tippees.
This is the sixth insider trading case the Commission has filed arising from this investigation. See SEC v. Anderson and Dipietro, No. 3:06CV196 (W.D.N.C. April 24, 2006)/Lit. Rel. No. 19665; SEC v. Paquette and Lawrence, No. 3:05CV412 (W.D.N.C. September 26, 2005)/Lit. Rel. No. 19393; SEC v. Ricks, Woody, and Mead, No. 3:04CV576 (W.D.N.C. Nov. 22, 2004)/Lit. Rel. No. 18983; SEC v. Talbot, No. CV 04-4556 (C.D. Cal. June 24, 2004)/Lit. Rel. No. 18762; and SEC v. Bartlett, No. 3:03CV463 (W.D.N.C. Sept. 24, 2003)/Lit. Rel. No. 18361.
The Commission's investigation continues.