Jury convicts manager who testified at his own insider trial

NEW YORK Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:41pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A California hedge fund manager who testified in his own defense at his insider trading trial, was convicted on Monday of securities fraud and conspiracy charges by a federal jury.

Doug Whitman, the 54-year-old founder of Whitman Capital, is the latest to be convicted or plead guilty among dozens of money managers, traders, consultants and lawyers charged since 2009 in a U.S. crackdown on insider trading.

He was the first among several insider trading trial defendants to gamble on taking the witness stand in the hope of winning an acquittal.

The Manhattan federal court jury reached its verdict after less than one full day of deliberations, having received the case late on Friday afternoon.

Prosecutors charged Whitman with four counts of conspiracy and securities fraud in illegally using inside sources to get advance information on the financial performance of Google Inc, Polycom Inc and Marvell Technology Group Ltd between 2006 and 2009.

"Douglas Whitman now joins the grim procession of convicted Wall Street professionals who decided that the rules don't apply to them," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "The rules do apply."

Three of Whitman's former friends and associates testified against him at the trial, which began on July 31 before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

The government's evidence also included telephone conversations secretly recorded by the FBI.

Whitman faces a maximum 25 years in prison at his December 20 sentencing.

Dressed in a dark blue suit, Whitman appeared shaken after the verdict was read and quickly exited the courtroom as soon as the 15-minute proceeding ended.

Bill McBride, a spokesman for Whitman and his lawyers, declined to comment on the verdict.

The case is USA v Doug Whitman in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-125.

(Additional Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Maureen Bavdek)

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