A former Walt Disney employee and her boyfriend have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell tips about the media giant to a bunch of hedge funds for $15,000 each.
Bonnie Hoxie, who worked as an assistant for an EVP in Disney’s communications department, and her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag actually wrote unsolicited emails to hedge funds requesting cash for insider tips about earnings and a plan by Disney to sell its ABC television network to two private equity firms. (The news about ABC, hinted at by the New York Post earlier this week, has already caused a jump in Disney’s stock.)
That wasn't the smoothest of moves, as some of the hedge funds alerted the FBI to Bonnie and Yonni's plan and the Feds started a sting operation.
Here’s one of the emails Yonni wrote to about 20 hedge funds and an undercover FBI agent posing as a hedge fund manager.
Hi, I have access to Disney’s (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 05/03/10 [sic]. I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later. I am sorry but I can’t disclose my identity for confidentiality reasons but we can correspond by email if you would like to discuss it. My email is email@example.com. I count on your discretion as you can count on mine. Thank you and I look forward to talking to you.
Some of those hedge fund alerted the FBI about the emails and the feds then started a sting operation. The two were then quickly arrested this morning in Los Angeles. They are being charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. They face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000.
Bonnie apparently wanted Yonni to buy her a purse and some shoes with the proceeds. From the SEC’s complaint:
Hoxie stated “here is the bag that you are going to get for me – thank [sic],” and attached a link to a picture of an expensive Stella McCartney designer handbag available for $700 at Neiman Marcus, an upscale department store. Sebbag replied that he would get Hoxie the bag “next week.” Anticipating that they would receive substantial compensation from the Putative Traders, Sebbag stated “I may be able to [buy] u 2 of them, lol.” Hoxie responded via email, “In that case, i also love love these shoes” and attached a link to a picture of expensive Stella McCartney shoes also sold at Neiman Marcus.