Trader gets 30 months in prison for $1.24b Apple stock scheme

PHOTO: Trader gets 30 months in prison for $1.24b Apple stock scheme

A former trader was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Tuesday for an unauthorised purchase of about US$1 billion (S$1.24 billion) in Apple Inc stock that eventually led to the demise of financial services firm Rochdale Securities.

David Miller, 41, was sentenced by US District Judge Robert Chatigny in Hartford, Connecticut, seven months after pleading guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy.

Prosecutors said the Miller, of Rockville Centre, New York, conspired with another individual to buy 1.625 million Apple shares on October 25, 2012, the same day that the company planned to report third-quarter results, in the hopes that the share price would rise. The co-conspirator was not identified in court papers.

Miller falsely told Rochdale the trade was for a customer who had, in fact, only asked to buy 1,625 shares, prosecutors said. When the gamble failed, Rochdale faced US$5.3 million in losses on the additional unauthorized shares, leaving the firm undercapitalised, according to a related civil lawsuit filed against Miller by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

As a result, the firm eventually collapsed, the SEC said. Rochdale, which was based in Stamford, Connecticut, was not a defendant in either case and did not face allegations of wrongdoing.

Prosecutors also said Miller defrauded another brokerage by convincing it to sell 500,000 shares of Apple to hedge against the purchase he had made at Rochdale. The second brokerage, which prosecutors said was able to trade out of the position at a profit, was not identified in court papers.

Miller's attorney, Kenneth Murphy, was not immediately available for comment. In April, following Miller's plea, he said the actions were "out of character for a kind and generous family man who has lived an otherwise law-abiding and good life."

The cases are US v. Miller, US District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 12-mj-00288; and SEC v. Miller in the same court, No. 13-00522.