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Press Release

Personal Pilot To Billionaire Investor Joseph Lewis Pleads Guilty To Insider Trading Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Patrick O’Connor Admitted to Trading on Inside Information

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of PATRICK O’CONNOR to charges of committing securities fraud and conspiring to commit securities fraud through insider trading.  O’CONNOR was arrested in July 2023 and pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Jessica G.L. Clarke today. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As the private pilot for billionaire Joe Lewis — previously convicted by this Office of insider trading — Patrick O’Connor was in the orbit of Lewis’s high-flying lifestyle, and a criminal beneficiary of non-public information provided by Lewis.  O’Connor accepted and criminally traded on what he knew to be inside information from his well-connected boss, for his own personal gain.  O’Connor has now accepted responsibility and awaits sentencing for his federal crimes.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictments and other filings and statements made in court:

PATRICK O’CONNOR worked as a personal pilot to his co-defendant in this case, JOSEPH LEWIS, for several years.  LEWIS is a billionaire businessman and investor who is the principal owner of the Tavistock Group, an international private investment organization.  At relevant times, by virtue of LEWIS’s investments in certain companies, he controlled one or more board of director seats at those companies and deputized employees to serve on various company boards.  In turn, through these employees, LEWIS received material, non-public information about these companies. 

During the course of his employment for LEWIS, on multiple occasions, O’CONNOR received material, non-public information from LEWIS and then traded on the basis of that information.  On one occasion, after receiving inside information from LEWIS concerning Mirati Therapeutics, O’CONNOR wrote in a WhatsApp message to a friend that he had “talked with Mr. Lewis,” “we will make much more within the next 6 weeks with Mirati,” and “think we have people who know.”  Days later, O’CONNOR wrote to the same friend to buy Mirati and that the “Boss[i.e., LEWIS] is helping us out and told us to get ASAP.”  O’CONNOR added that “All conversations on app is encrypted so all good. No one can ever see.”  A day later, O’CONNOR added in the same text thread that LEWIS said to buy Mirati stock, that Mirati “should only be short term,” and that the “Boss mentioned around 6 to 8 weeks for [Mirati] to take profit.”  Within days, LEWIS wired $500,000 to O’CONNOR, and O’CONNOR then used the $500,000 to purchase Mirati stock.  On or about October 22, 2019, O’CONNOR texted his same friend that October 28, 2019, was the “big day for MRTX.”  O’CONNOR then added that he thought “the Boss has inside info” and “knows the outcome” because “otherwise why would he make us invest.”

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O’CONNOR, 67, of Preston Hollow, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison, and one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.

LEWIS, 87, a British national, pled guilty on January 24, 2024, to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison, and two counts of securities fraud, which each carry a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.  O’CONNOR is sentenced to be scheduled on May 29, 2024.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He also expressed appreciation for the Securities Exchange Commission, which previously initiated civil proceedings against O’CONNOR. 

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicolas Roos and Jason A. Richman are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 26, 2024

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-069