NEW YORK — Following an emotional plea for leniency, former investment banker Ira B. Sokolow was sentenced Thursday to one year and a day in jail for passing stolen information to Dennis B. Levine, the central figure in the largest insider trading case ever prosecuted.
Sokolow, who pleaded guilty on Sept. 4 to criminal securities fraud and tax evasion charges, also was sentenced to three years probation. He is the first defendant in the illicit trading scheme to be sentenced.
Two other former investment bankers--including Levine himself--and a former partner in a leading mergers and acquisitions law firm also have pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Both the 32-year-old former vice president of the Shearson Lehman Bros. brokerage and his wife were in tears as he told U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan and a packed Manhattan courtroom that he is "sorry" for having tipped Levine to proposed corporate mergers before they became public knowledge. His lawyer, Peter Fleming, also reminded the judge that Sokolow already has lost his job, is "in disgrace" and has agreed to pay the government $210,000--about twice his profits from the scheme.