Ex-Microsoft manager charged with insider trading

SEATTLE (AP) - Federal authorities filed criminal and civil charges Thursday against a former Microsoft manager, saying he fed inside information to a day trader who used it to clear $393,000 in illicit transactions.

Brian Jorgenson, 32, was a senior manager in Microsoft Corp.'s Treasury Group when he provided the information to his friend Sean Stokke, 28, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. They're accused of trading on three corporate developments: two recent quarterly earnings reports, and Microsoft's 2012 investment in Barnes & Noble Inc.

"Brian's approach to this is, he needs to make it right," said Jorgenson's attorney, Angelo Calfo. "He made a really bad decision, and he's prepared to take his medicine."

A message seeking comment was left for Stokke's attorney, Jennifer Horwitz.

The pair planned to use the proceeds to open their own biotech hedge fund, FBI agent Kathleen Moran wrote in the criminal complaint, which charges Jorgenson and Stokke with 35 counts of insider trading.

Both confessed when questioned, Moran wrote, adding that Stokke said he had given Jorgenson about $50,000 in cash out of the proceeds, in $10,000 increments, packed into envelopes.

The pair accumulated Barnes & Noble stock options in advance of Microsoft's announcement that it was investing in the company's digital book business, the FBI said. The announcement caused Barnes & Noble's stock to jump by nearly half, and the pair made $184,000.

They're also accused of trading on Microsoft's failure to meet earnings expectations in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 and Microsoft's increased first-quarter profit in fiscal 2014.

"For every stock market winner, there is a loser, and trading on confidential inside information is a cheater's way of gaining at the expense of others," Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. "This conduct hurts companies, hurts individuals, and shakes faith in our financial markets.

Jorgenson, a married father of four from the north Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, joined Microsoft in January 2011. He is hoping to be allowed to speak to Microsoft employees to share his cautionary tale, Calfo said. Jorgenson expects to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors, the lawyer said.

Microsoft said in a written statement that the company has no tolerance for insider trading. "We helped the government with its investigation and terminated the employee," the statement said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed related civil charges. The agency is seeking unspecified penalties and restitution from Jorgenson and Stokke, and seeks to have Jorgenson barred against serving as an officer or director of any public company.

"Abusing access to Microsoft's confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not a wise or legal business model for starting a hedge fund," Daniel Hawke, head of the SEC enforcement division's market abuse unit, said in a statement.

___

Follow Gene Johnson at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle. AP Business Writer Marcy Gordon in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Get Out of Jail Free?
    Why Seattle firefighters won't face felony charges in alleged homeless beating

  • Goats!
    Seattle deploys one of its most popular work crews to clean up the city

  • Buying Season
    Here are four ways to ruin your chances at that new home
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Listen to the show
Hear GeekWire on KIRO Radio
Join Todd Bishop and John Cook weekends on KIRO Radio to talk Seattle technology.

Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.