* Part of widening probe of hedge funds
* Three accused of leaking secret company information
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK, Jan 4 Three men accused of being part of an insider trading conspiracy to leak technology company secrets to hedge funds were allowed to remain free on bail on Tuesday in a widening probe by U.S. prosecutors.
The men are Walter Shimoon, a former Flextronics (FLEX.O) employee in California accused of leaking secrets about Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPad ahead of its launch; James Fleishman, who is on leave from his sales job at the California-based research firm Primary Global Research; and Mark Longoria, a Texas-based supply chain manager for Advanced Micro Devices AMD.N.
They were all arrested on Dec. 16 and freed on bail as part of a probe by federal prosecutors in New York that began at least three years ago, but has been pushed forward by authorities trying to flex their muscles after failing to win any major convictions tied to the 2008 financial crisis.
The arrests of seven people in November and December focused on the use of so-called "expert network" firms that connected hedge funds with employees at various technology companies and in one instance, a drugmaker.
Prosecutors also revealed in December that a former Dell Computer DELL.O employee, Daniel DeVore, and a former independent consultant in California to hedge funds, Karl Motey, were cooperating in the investigation and had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud charges.
In Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis approved bond that included some travel restrictions for Shimoon of $150,000, for Fleishman of $700,000 and Longoria of $50,000. Their next appearance was scheduled for Feb. 3.
Their lawyers declined to comment.
Legal experts say those arrested on allegations they shared confidential corporate information may have a window to negotiate favorable terms with U.S. prosecutors before they are formally indicted. (For an analysis, click on [ID:nN29236569])
In California on Monday, a federal magistrate judge declined to grant bail to Winifred Jiau, who prosecutors accuse of selling inside information about publicly traded companies while consulting for Primary Global Research. The government considers her a flight risk.
Jiau is accused of providing information about computer chipmakers Marvell Technology Group Ltd (MRVL.O) and Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) to hedge funds, including the founder of a New York fund that prosecutors did not identify.
The case is USA v Shimoon et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-mj-2823. (Reporting by Grant McCool, editing by Dave Zimmerman)