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Man pleads guilty to securities fraud in Disney's Marvel acquisition

April 21, 2014|By Ricardo Lopez
  • A person dressed as Captain America poses on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this month. Walt Disney Co. acquired Marvel for $4 billion in 2009.
A person dressed as Captain America poses on the floor of the New York Stock… (Spencer Platt, Getty Images )

A San Francisco man pleaded guilty to a single count of securities fraud Monday related to the 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment by Walt Disney Co, federal authorities said. 

The announcement by the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California caps the criminal case against Toby G. Scammell, a Bay Area man who had been accused of insider trading. A civil action by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began with an insider trading charge in 2011; a judgment was issued in that case last month.  

The SEC ordered Scammell to disgorge his trading profits and pay interest and civil penalties totaling $800,985.

Prosecutors said he bought call options in Marvel in August 2009 shortly before the deal by Disney was announced. He then sold them after Marvel stock jumped 25%. Scammell made about $192,000 in profit, roughly a 3,000% return, federal authorities said.

Prosecutors said he had learned confidential details of the planned transaction from his girlfriend, who had been working in an externship in Disney's corporate strategy department in the months leading up to the deal. 

He used his brother's trading account to acquire more than 650 call options to purchase Marvel stock for $5,465, but he did not inform his brother of his activities, prosecutors said. After the deal was announced, he transferred $100,000 of the profits from his brother's account to hide the trading activity.

Scammell, who is scheduled to be sentenced in July, faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.    

Scammell's attorney declined to comment. 


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