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Man sentenced to prison in Disney trading plot
January 28, 2011 / 5:35 PM / 7 years ago

Man sentenced to prison in Disney trading plot

* Yonni Sebbag admitted to wire fraud, conspiracy

* Girlfriend Bonnie Hoxie pleaded guilty to same charges

* Defendants tried to sell information to hedge funds

By Bernd Debusmann Jr

NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A man who admitted to scheming with his girlfriend to try to sell inside information about Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) to hedge funds was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

Yonni Sebbag was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood on Friday after pleading guilty last August to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.

His girlfriend, Bonnie Hoxie, admitted to the same two charges in September.

Prosecutors said the pair had tried to sell information about Disney’s upcoming earnings and possible mergers, which Hoxie learned about as an assistant to the company’s corporate communications chief, to more than 30 hedge funds. They were arrested after several funds reported their activities to authorities.

Among the leaks were details of possible advanced talks over a sale of Disney’s ABC television network, prosecutors said. Disney has called references to such talks “false.”

Sebbag, a 30-year-old Moroccan citizen, also faces deportation after his release from prison.

More than a dozen family members and friends -- some clearly upset -- from Morocco and France were in attendance at his sentencing. He had faced 27 to 33 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

His lawyer had sought a sentence of no more than a year in prison, citing both Sebbag’s “desperation” after the cafe he ran in Hollywood began losing money and his client’s resulting “addiction” to gambling.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Hoxie and Sebbag last May. While it was unclear what motivated the pair, the SEC said Hoxie had told Sebbag she coveted expensive shoes and a $700 Stella McCartney handbag.

The case is U.S. v. Sebbag, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-00753. (Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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