The boyfriend of an assistant to a top Walt Disney Co. executive pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud in federal court in New York in an insider trading scheme that garnered notoriety for its lack of sophistication.
Yonni Sebbag was arrested in May along with Bonnie Hoxie, a former aide to Zenia Mucha, the head of corporate communications for Disney. Both were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud by selling inside information to investment companies.
Sebbag, 33, had been held without bail in Manhattan since the arrest, his attorney said.
"He took full responsibility for his misconduct in this case," said Steven Kartagener, Sebbag's attorney. "The plea agreement is, in our view, a fair foundation for resolving the issues in this case."
Hoxie and Sebbag allegedly sent anonymous letters offering an early glimpse at quarterly financial results to 33 hedge funds and investment companies, which promptly tipped off the authorities.
The scheme unfolded in a series of e-mail messages obtained by authorities and released by the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. Sebbag told undercover FBI agents posing as interested investors that he was "looking to build a strong business relationship" and that "I don't think we will get caught if we stay discrete [sic] and careful."
In a meeting arranged by the agents, Sebbag asked for their advice in setting up an offshore bank account to avoid detection. He told the agents he "didn't want to go to jail," the SEC said.
Under terms of the plea agreement, Sebbag agreed to forfeit $15,000, the amount he received from the FBI agents in exchange for the disclosure of the inside information. He could be sentenced to 27 to 33 months in jail and, as a Moroccan citizen, faces the prospect of deportation.
Sebbag is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16.
Hoxie was released on $50,000 bail. Her attorney, Robert Baum, said he expected the case to be resolved in the coming week.