Man pleads guilty to Disney insider trading

Yonni Sebbag, girlfriend tried to sell confidential information

NEW YORK -- A Los Angeles man pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring between March and May this year with his girlfriend, then a Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) employee, in trying to sell confidential company information to hedge funds.

Yonni Sebbag, 30, faces a possible 27- to 33-month prison term under federal sentencing guidelines following his admission in Manhattan federal court in New York. He agreed to forfeit $15,000, the amount of cash he gave to undercover FBI agents in May, who were posing as hedge fund representatives.

His co-accused, Bonnie Hoxie, is free on bail and her case is unresolved. She no longer works for Disney, which declined to comment on the case.

The pair were arrested in Los Angeles in May.

"From March 2010 to May 26, 2010, I agreed with others to commit securities fraud and wire fraud," Sebbag told U.S. Magistrate Judge James Cott in New York. "I obtained confidential nonpublic information about the Walt Disney Company and sent it to outside investors by email."

Last May, prosecutors accused Moroccan citizen Sebbag and Hoxie, an assistant to Disney's corporate communications chief in Los Angeles, of trying to sell inside information about the company to more than 30 U.S. and European hedge funds. Several funds reported the efforts to authorities.

The information included details about upcoming financial results and possible advanced talks over a sale of Disney's ABC television network, prosecutors said. Disney in May said references to such talks "were and are false."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed separate civil charges in May.

While it was unclear from the complaints what motivated the duo, the SEC said Hoxie told Sebbag she had had her eye on a $700 Stella McCartney designer handbag and a pair of shoes.

The criminal case was brought in New York rather than Los Angeles because many of the hedge funds were in New York.

The case is U.S. v Hoxie et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-mag-1113.