U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Litigation Release No. 22062 / August 4, 2011
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Douglas V. DeCinces, Joseph J. Donohue, Fred Scott Jackson and Roger A. Wittenbach, Case No. SACV11-1168DOC (ANX) (C.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2011)
SEC CHARGES FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER DOUG DECINCES AND THREE OTHERS WITH INSIDER TRADING
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged former professional baseball player Doug DeCinces and three others with insider trading ahead of a company buyout. The SEC alleges that DeCinces and his associates made more than $1.7 million in illegal profits when Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott Laboratories Inc. announced its plan to purchase Advanced Medical Optics Inc. through a tender offer.
The SEC alleges that DeCinces, who lives in Laguna Beach, Calif., received confidential information about the acquisition from a source at Santa Ana, Calif.-based Advanced Medical Optics. DeCinces immediately began to purchase shares of Advanced Medical Optics in several brokerage accounts, buying more throughout the course of the impending transaction as he received updated information from his source. During this time, DeCinces also illegally tipped three associates who traded on the confidential information – physical therapist Joseph J. Donohue, real estate lawyer Fred Scott Jackson, and businessman Roger A. Wittenbach.
DeCinces agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the SEC’s charges, and the three others also agreed to settlements.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, DeCinces received the material, nonpublic information from an employee at Advanced Medical Optics. DeCinces knew that his source was under a duty to keep the information confidential. In the weeks preceding the public announcement, DeCinces bought Advanced Medical Optics stock on several occasions, eventually totaling at least 83,700 shares in several brokerage accounts he controlled. Some of these accounts were in his grandchildren’s names. On at least one occasion, DeCinces funded his purchase of shares by liquidating a diverse portfolio of 110 stocks. When a public announcement was made by the companies on Jan. 12, 2009, the stock price for Advanced Medical Optics increased 143 percent, and DeCinces sold all of his shares for $1.2 million in profits.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Donohue was DeCinces’s physical therapist at the time of the illegal trading. He bought 5,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics stock in December 2008 and January 2009 on the basis of confidential information received from DeCinces about the impending transaction. Donohue made $75,570 when he sold the stock on the same day as the public announcement. DeCinces later asked Donohue whether he had sold his stock and congratulated him.
According to the SEC’s complaint, DeCinces and Jackson shared business and social interests. During a Jan. 8, 2009, breakfast meeting, Jackson used his mobile handheld device to buy 8,500 shares of Advanced Medical Optics stock on the basis of the confidential information that DeCinces communicated to him. Jackson bought additional shares later that day and again the next day, and following the public announcement sold all of his shares for a profit of $140,259.
DeCinces and Wittenbach have been longtime friends, according to the SEC’s complaint. After DeCinces tipped Wittenbach with confidential information about the impending transaction, Wittenbach bought 15,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics stock on January 8. He also called his sister and recommended that she buy 1,000 shares of the stock, which she did later that day. On the same day of the public announcement, Wittenbach sold all of his shares for a profit of $201,692. He again called his sister and told her to sell her stock, which she did for a profit of $13,214.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, DeCinces, Donohue, Jackson, and Wittenbach agreed to settle the charges against them by consenting to the entry of final judgments permanently enjoining them from violating Sections 10(b) and 14(e) of the Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 10b-5 and 14e-3 thereunder. DeCinces agreed to pay disgorgement of $1,282,691, prejudgment interest of $19,311, and a penalty of $1,197,998 for a total of $2.5 million. Donohue agreed to pay disgorgement of $75,570 and a penalty of $37,785 for a total of $113,355. Jackson agreed to pay disgorgement of $140,259, prejudgment interest of $12,508, and a penalty of $140,259 for a total of $293,026. Wittenbach agreed to pay disgorgement of $201,692, prejudgment interest of $5,768, and a penalty of $214,906 for a total of $422,366. The settlements are subject to final approval by the court.