Former Baltimore Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle insider trading charges filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday.
DeCinces, who played mostly third base with the Orioles and the California Angels from 1973 to 1987, was accused along with three associates of reaping more than $1.7 million in illegal profit after receiving confidential information about Abbott Laboratories Inc's plans to buy Advanced Medical Optics in January 2009.
According to the SEC, which filed its complaint in a Southern California federal court, DeCinces immediately began to buy Advanced Medical Optics shares after learning about the planned acquisition from an employee at the company.
In the weeks leading up to the $1.4 billion takeover, DeCinces allegedly bought 83,700 shares of Advanced Medical Optics through several brokerage accounts, including some in his grandchildren's names.
When the takeover was announced on January 12, 2009, Advanced Medical Optics stock soared 143 percent, and DeCinces then sold his shares for a $1.3 million profit, the SEC said.
Lawyers for DeCinces did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Also settling SEC charges were DeCinces' physical therapist Joseph Donohue, who will pay about $113,000 in fines and disgorgement of illegal profit; real estate lawyer Fred Scott Jackson, who will pay roughly $293,000; and businessman Roger Wittenbach, who will pay approximately $422,000.
According to the complaint, Donohue made just over $75,500 after being tipped about the merger, while Jackson made about $140,000 and Wittenbach a little less than $202,000.
Jackson bought some of his shares on a mobile device while eating breakfast with DeCinces, the SEC said.
Lawyers for Donohue, Jackson and Wittenbach also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
None of the defendants admitted wrongdoing.
The SEC did not charge the source of the tip about the takeover. It said the probe is continuing.
"Time and again, we see reputable people engaging in insider trading and risking their good names in order to enrich themselves and those around them," said Daniel Hawke, the head of the market abuse unit in the SEC's enforcement division.
"People need to understand that we are watching for suspicious trading activity, and they will pay a heavy price when we catch them insider trading," he added.
Now 60 and a Laguna Beach, California resident, DeCinces also played briefly in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In Baltimore, DeCinces succeeded Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson as the starting third baseman.
He was traded to California in 1982, clearing room at third base for Cal Ripken, who would also enter the Hall of Fame. DeCinces ended his career with 237 home runs, 1,505 hits and a .259 batting average.
The case is SEC v. DeCinces et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 11-01168.