United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
Defendant Netted over $650,000 in Illegal Profits from College Friend’s Insider “Tips”
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Maryland man who received insider “tips” of confidential trading information from his college friend, John Femenia, has been charged with insider trading conspiracy, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Division joins U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
The charges against Walter Donald Wagner, 33, of Rockville, Md. stem from “Operation Insider Out,” an FBI investigation into insider trading activities in the Charlotte area. The investigation, which began in early 2012, has resulted in the prosecution of nine other conspirators involved in the illegal trading ring, five of which have already been sentenced, and all of whom have pleaded guilty. John Femenia, who orchestrated the conspiracy, and three other conspirators are awaiting sentencing.
According to filed court documents, Femenia was an investment banker with Wells Fargo, who lived in Charlotte and later in New York. Court documents indicate that from March 2010 through December 2012, Femenia stole material nonpublic information from Wells Fargo and its clients about potential and upcoming mergers and acquisitions. Femenia and Wagner were college friends, and around April 2012 Femenia recruited Wagner to participate in the insider trading conspiracy. Court records show that Femenia tipped off Wagner and other conspirators about upcoming mergers, who then traded on that information. Court records reflect that when one of the mergers went through and news of the merger became public, the company’s stock price increased by 64% and the conspirators collectively realized over $7.5 million in profits. Wagner specifically made over $650,000 in profit from the fraudulent insider tips he received from Femenia.
A criminal bill of information filed today in U.S. District Court charges Wagner with one count of insider trading conspiracy. Wagner has agreed to plead guilty to the charge and will appear in U.S. District Court to formally accept the plea when the hearing is scheduled. At sentencing, Wagner faces a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy to commit insider trading offense.
In December 2012, a separate criminal indictment charged John W. Femenia, Sawn C. Hegedus, Danielle C. Laurenti, Matthew J. Musante, Aaron W. Wens, Roger A. Williams, Kenneth M. Raby, Frank M. Burgess, Jr. and James A. Hayes for their involvement in the insider trading conspiracy. Femenia, Hegedus, Laurenti and Musante have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The remaining five defendants have been already sentenced:
• Roger A. Williams, was sentenced in January 2014 to 24 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
• Kenneth M. Raby, was sentenced in January 2014 to 18 months in prison and one year of supervised release.
• Frank M. Burgess, Jr., was sentenced in January 2014 to six months in prison, six months of home detention, and one year of supervised release.
• Aaron M. Wens,was sentenced in February 2014 to six months in prison, six months of home detention, and one year of supervised release.
• James A. Hayes, Jr., was sentenced in January 2014 to one year of probation with a condition of eight months home detention.
In a related action today, the United States Securities & Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Wagner in federal court in Charlotte. U.S. Attorney Tompkins thanked the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, Division of Enforcement for its assistance in this investigation.
Operation Insider Out in the Western District of North Carolina is being handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kurt W. Meyers.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it is the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions, and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.