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Baseball star Eddie Murray settles insider-trading investigation

Eddie Murray, who played for the Dodgers and Orioles, agrees to pay $358,151 to settle an SEC investigation into whether he bought Advanced Medical Optics shares on an illegal stock tip.

August 17, 2012|By Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
  • Former Baltimore Orioles player Eddie Murray throws out the first pitch before a baseball game in Baltimore between the Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.
Former Baltimore Orioles player Eddie Murray throws out the first pitch… (Mitchell Layton, Getty…)

An alleged stock tip has gone from a home run to a strikeout for Hall of Fame baseball player Eddie Murray.

The onetime Dodgers first baseman agreed Friday to pay $358,151 to settle an investigation into whether he broke insider-trading laws when he bought shares of a Santa Ana company, allegedly on a tip from former major leaguer Doug DeCinces.

The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the longtime Baltimore Orioles superstar of making $235,314 in illegal profit on advance knowledge of the 2009 buyout of Advanced Medical Optics Inc. by Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories Inc.

Shares of Advanced Medical Optics, a medical eye-products company, shot up 143% after the acquisition was announced.

Murray, who is 25th on the all-time home run list, with 504 dingers, used all the available money in his brokerage account to buy 17,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics after being tipped by DeCinces, according to the SEC. Murray sold all his shares after the deal was announced, the SEC said.

"It is truly disappointing when role models, particularly those who have achieved so much in their professional careers, give in to the temptation of easy money," Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC's market abuse unit, said in a statement.

As is typical in SEC settlements, Murray neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

His payment includes disgorgement of $235,314, a penalty of $117,657 and prejudgment interest of $5,180.

"Eddie Murray is admitting no wrongdoing at all in this matter; the settlement agreement itself states that fact," Murray's attorney, Michael Proctor, said in a statement. "What I can say is that Mr. Murray, a decent man of principle and accomplishment, has settled this to put the matter to an end and get on with his life."

DeCinces agreed last year to pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that he acted on illegal information when he bought more than 83,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics.

DeCinces, who played major league baseball from 1973 to 1987, neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

The Laguna Beach man hit 237 home runs during his career. He played with the then-California Angels from 1982 to 1986. He also played for Baltimore, where he was a teammate of Murray's, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

The SEC alleged Friday that DeCinces was tipped by James V. Mazzo, who was the chairman and chief executive of Advanced Medical Optics.

Mazzo and DeCinces were longtime friends and neighbors in a gated community in Laguna Beach, belonged to the same country club and vacationed together, according to the SEC.

Mazzo's lawyer, Richard Marmaro, said in a statement that his client "flatly and unequivocally denies the SEC's allegations" and would not put his career at risk by tipping a friend.

"The SEC has not alleged that Mr. Mazzo traded on inside information or profited off any trades by others," Marmaro said. "Nor has the SEC even alleged any possible reason why Mr. Mazzo would have done so."

The SEC also alleged that DeCinces tipped a Utah businessman, David L. Parker, who it said made $347,920 in illegal trading profits. Parker's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

walter.hamilton@latimes.com

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