NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York securities analyst who was imprisoned for refusing to come to court to face trial on insider trading charges was sentenced on Wednesday to three years and nine months after being convicted.
John Afriyie, who worked at Dell Inc founder Michael Dell’s investment firm MSD Capital, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in a courtroom full of his relatives and friends. The judge also ordered him to pay restitution of nearly $2.8 million.
The sentence is more than the one year sought by his lawyers, but substantially less than 6-1/2 to eight years called for by federal sentencing guidelines.
Afriyie was convicted by a jury in January of securities fraud and wire fraud by for misusing secret information about a deal that MSD Capital was considering financing.
Afriyie’s trial got off to a rocky start on Jan. 23 when he refused to come to court, prompting the U.S. Marshals Service to arrest him at a hotel in East Windsor, New Jersey. He has been in custody since then.
Before imposing the sentence, Engelmayer called Afriyie’s insider trading “blatantly and brazenly illegal” and said the one-year sentence requested by his lawyer was “a complete non-starter.”
“The motive for the crime appears to have been greed and a desire to live the high life,” he said.
Nonetheless, Engelmayer said he was influenced by the many letters he received from Afriyie’s friends and family attesting to his compassion and intelligence, and read aloud from several in court.
“I want to apologize to my family and friends, who have suffered many more times than myself,” Afriyie said before being sentenced. “I ask the court for compassion and understanding.
Afriyie was arrested in 2016. Prosecutors said that earlier that year, Afriyie learned about Apollo Global Management LLC’s planned $7 billion deal to buy security company ADT Corp after the private equity firm approached MSD about providing financing.
After MSD employees were emailed about a restriction imposed on trading in ADT stock, Afriyie accessed a shared folder on MSD’s network server to learn about Apollo’s pending deal, prosecutors said.
He then bought ADT call options for $24,254 through a brokerage account in his mother’s name, enabling him to earn more than $1.5 million when the deal was announced, prosecutors said.
Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio