The phrase “inside baseball” took on new meaning for a former baseball star, Doug DeCines, who was recently convicted on insider trading and securities fraud charges. Inside baseball is a term that usually refers to a detail-oriented approach to any subject, which requires a specific knowledge about what is being discussed, with nuances that are not easily understood by outsiders. This term became reality for DeCinces when he was convicted on Friday, May 12, 2017 of illegal insider trading for a stock buy that earned him more than $1 million.
DeCines was no stranger to white collar crime allegations. On August 4, 2011, DeCinces, along with three others, was charged with securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC alleged that DeCinces and his associates made more than $1.7 million in illegal profits when Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories Inc. announced its plan to purchase Advanced Medical Optics Inc. through a tender offer. Without admitting or denying the allegations, DeCinces agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the SEC’s charges.
Then in November 2012, DeCinces received a criminal indictment on insider trading in a related matter and was charged with securities fraud and money laundering. Evidence at trial was that DeCinces was tipped off in 2009 that a Santa Ana-based medical device firm, Advanced Medical Optics, was going to be sold. The information came from the company CEO, James Mazzo, who was DeCinces’ neighbor in Laguna Beach, California, prosecutors argued. DeCinces bought more than 90,000 shares in the company days before Abbott Laboratories bought the firm, and he sold the shares for a profit of about $1.3 million, prosecutors said. On May 12, 2017, after a nearly two-month trial, a federal court jury in Santa Ana, California found him guilty on 13 charges.
DeCinces, who is now 66 years old, will remain free on bail until sentenced. A hearing date was not immediately set for sentencing. At the time of the merger, Advanced Medical Optics had seen its stock price plunge from more than $30 to under $10 in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street crash. It more than doubled after the merger was announced.
Canadian insider trading laws have not been as aggressively enforced as those in the U.S. The epic failure of the Ontario Securities Commission to secure a conviction in the prosecution of John Felderhof arising from the Bre-X Minerals scandals has now gained notoriety in the Hollywood movie Gold. There has only been one prosecution for insider trading under the Criminal Code, resulting in a guilty plea and a 39 month jail term for Stanko Grmovsek. Canada’s team, the Toronto Blue Jays major league baseball franchise, have been largely scandal free and is celebrating their 40th season in Toronto.