U.S. judge sentences ex-Assent trader to 63 months

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former trader who worked for broker-dealer Assent LLC and pleaded guilty to participating in an insider-trading scheme that profited millions was sentenced to more than five years in prison on Tuesday.

David Tavdy, 40, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud a year ago after he admitted buying tips from a former UBS AG executive who sold him nonpublic information about the bank’s stock recommendations.

“I made a mistake and I regret it,” Tavdy told U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts before she sentenced him to 63 months in Manhattan federal court.

Tavdy and the former UBS AG executive, Mitchel Guttenberg, were among 13 people criminally charged in 2007 in what authorities then called one of the most pervasive insider trading rings since the 1980s.

It included former employees of Wall Street firms such as Bank of America Corp, Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns Co Inc. All 13 pleaded guilty.

In handing down the sentence, Batts noted between 2002 and 2006 Tavdy made “millions of dollars for himself and others by abusing insider information,” and later added, “this is not a case of an isolated incident.”

Guttenberg, a former institutional client manager in UBS’ equity research department, was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison in November for telling Tavdy and one other trader upcoming analyst stock recommendations, including those for Caterpillar Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares.

The information was used by Tavdy to execute hundreds of securities transactions, earning $10.3 million in illegal profits, which Tavdy agreed to forfeit at the sentencing.

The judge ordered Tavdy to begin his sentence by April 21 at a minimum-security federal prison in Miami, Florida.

Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Matthew Lewis