Rochdale Securities Trader Admits To Fraudulent Scheme Involving Nearly $1 Billion Purchase Of Apple Stock
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that DAVID MILLER, 40, of Rockville Centre, N.Y., waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to conspiracy and fraud offenses related to his role in a fraudulent scheme to make large purchases of stock in Apple Inc. as an institutional sales trader for Rochdale Securities LLC of Stamford.
“This defendant participated in a fraudulent scheme in which he would either reap huge profits through the unauthorized purchase of approximately $1 billion of Apple stock or, if he faced huge losses, explain it away as simple human error,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “This scheme caused catastrophic losses for his former employer and was unraveled promptly by the FBI. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our many partners on the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force are committed to protecting investors and the integrity of American capital markets. This investigation is ongoing.”
“Risk is inherent in the investment world, but that risk should never be borne from the actions of investment professionals who choose to serve their own financial agendas rather than those of their clients,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “As this guilty plea demonstrates, the FBI and its partners on the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force will act swiftly to investigate and bring to justice those who violate securities laws.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, MILLER, while working as an institutional sales trader at Rochdale Securities LLC (“Rochdale”) in Stamford, conspired with another individual to execute a trade to buy 1,625,000 shares of stock in Apple Inc. (“Apple”) on behalf of a Rochdale customer whose account Miller handled. As part of the scheme, MILLER and his co-conspirator had agreed that the co-conspirator would submit an order for Apple stock on October 25, 2012, the day Apple was scheduled to announce its earnings for the quarter, and would write the order in such a way that MILLER could later claim he misinterpreted it. MILLER would then execute a trade for 1,000 times the number of shares written in the order. If the trade proved profitable, MILLER and his co-conspirator would share in the profits. If the trade proved unprofitable, MILLER would claim human error, leaving Rochdale holding the losing position.
At approximately 9:31 a.m. on October 25, 2012, MILLER’s co-conspirator submitted an order for Apple that read: “b 125 ok (per 1/2 hr).” MILLER then began executing orders to buy 125,000 shares of Apple stock, purportedly on behalf of the Rochdale customer. Over the course of the day, MILLER entered multiple, separate orders in Rochdale’s order management system in the amount of 125,000 shares. After Apple announced its earnings later that day, the stock price began dropping and it became clear that the trade would not be profitable. When confronted, MILLER falsely claimed that he had made a mistake in ordering many multiples of what was written in a client’s order.
As a result of this scheme, Rochdale was left holding approximately 1,623,375 shares of Apple. It promptly traded out of the position, but suffered a loss $5,292,202.50.
While he was executing the scheme at Rochdale, MILLER also defrauded another broker-dealer into taking on a significant short position in Apple stock. Through a series of misrepresentations made over the course of several weeks, MILLER convinced the broker-dealer to sell 500,000 shares of Apple stock, falsely claiming that he was trading for the account of a company, which he had no relationship with and for which he was not authorized to trade. MILLER engaged in this part of the scheme to hedge against the large purchase of Apple stock he was executing at Rochdale. As a result of the scheme, MILLER placed the broker-dealer at risk of sustaining substantial losses. In the end, the broker was able to trade out of the position at a profit.
MILLER pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud, and one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Robert N. Chatigny on July 8, 2013, at which time MILLER faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 25 years.
MILLER has been released on a $300,000 bond since his arrest on December 4, 2012.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
U.S. Attorney Fein acknowledged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for their substantial assistance and cooperation during the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul A. Murphy.
In December 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and several law enforcement and regulatory partners announced the formation of the Connecticut Securities, Commodities and Investor Fraud Task Force, which is investigating matters relating to insider trading, market manipulation, Ponzi schemes, investor fraud, financial statement fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and embezzlement. The Task Force includes representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section and Antitrust Division; U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Office of the Chief State’s Attorney; State of Connecticut Department of Banking; Greenwich Police Department and Stamford Police Department.
Citizens are encouraged to report any financial fraud schemes by calling, toll free, 855-236-9740, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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’s 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 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.
To report financial fraud crimes, and to learn more about the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, please visit www.stopfraud.gov.
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