Steve Buyer pictured then and more recently (left and right, AP archives YouTube/screengrab; archived congressional photo), Bill Clinton (center, CBS News YouTube/screengrab) in 1998.
A former congressional Republican from Indiana who once served as an impeachment manager in the case against then-President Bill Clinton amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the ’90s was sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday for insider trading.
Stephen “Steve” Buyer, whose time in public office lasted from 1993 to 2011, was charged with crimes that began after he joined the private sector as a consultant.
According to the indictment, Buyer’s consulting work focused on “services to private companies in areas in which Buyer gained expertise while in Congress.”
Buyer was accused of misappropriating “material non-public information” in 2018 and 2019 by using that info to “place timely, profitable securities trades in brokerage accounts in his own name and the names of others.”
“In particular,” the indictment continued, “BUYER obtained MNPI in connection with two corporate mergers related to his consulting work. Buyer’s fraudulent trading activity based on that MNPI resulted in profits of at least approximately $349,846.61.”
The former congressman was also implicated in a cover-up, prosecutors said.
“Buyer also tried to cover up his insider trading by, among other things, providing false and misleading information to representatives of one of the companies for which he consulted in connection with the company’s inquiry into Buyer’s trading,” the indictment said.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said that Buyer’s illegal insider trading activity was connected to T-Mobile-Sprint merger and consulting firm Guidehouse’s acquisition of Navigate Consulting Inc. — and that the former congressman reaped a windfall in the hundreds of thousands as a result of his crimes.
In 2018 and 2019, BUYER engaged in two separate, but interrelated insider trading schemes to steal material non-public information that he obtained through consulting work and to place timely, profitable securities trades based on that stolen information. First, in or about March and April 2018, BUYER purchased shares of Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”) ahead of the April 29, 2018, public announcement that T-Mobile US, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) and Sprint would merge in a deal valued at $26.5 billion. Prior to the public announcement of the transaction by T-Mobile, executives at T-Mobile told a small, trusted group of consultants that they had retained to work on the deal, including BUYER, about the merger and directed them to keep the information confidential. BUYER breached his duty of confidentiality to T-Mobile and misappropriated that information by purchasing shares of Sprint across several brokerage accounts, including his own accounts, an account held jointly with his cousin, and an account in the name of a close, personal friend. Across these accounts, BUYER made more than $126,000 from the purchase and subsequent sale of Sprint stock after the merger was publicly announced.
In or about June through August 2019, BUYER again engaged in insider trading, this time trading in shares of Navigant Consulting, Inc. (“Navigant”) ahead of Navigant’s acquisition by consulting and advisory firm Guidehouse. As with his purchase of Sprint shares, BUYER learned through his consulting work for Guidehouse that Guidehouse intended to acquire Navigant and misappropriated that information by purchasing Navigant shares ahead of the public announcement of the acquisition. BUYER purchased Navigant shares across several brokerage accounts, including accounts in his own name, joint accounts held with family members, and the account of the same close, personal friend whose account he used to trade Sprint shares. In total, Buyer made more than $223,000 from his illegal Navigant trades.
When Buyer testified at trial in March, the DOJ said further, he lied about his advance knowledge of the mergers, which the judge said at sentencing “constitute[d] obstruction of justice.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, perhaps best remembered as the jurist who denied Jeffrey Epstein bail weeks before the infamous sex offender’s jailhouse death, remarked that the evidence against Buyer “screams guilty,” Politico reported.
Buyer, now 64, was ultimately convicted of four counts of securities fraud and sentenced Tuesday to 22 months in prison.
“Stephen Buyer was convicted by a jury of twice engaging in insider trading. He abused positions of trust for illicit personal gain, and today he faced justice for those acts,”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “No insider trader is above the law, and we will continue to bring those who undermine the fairness and integrity of our markets to justice.”
As part of his sentence, the Gulf War veteran, former chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and former member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology must pay a to-be-decided restitution sum and forfeit “$354,027.72 with credit for any money repaid by others in whose accounts the defendant traded.”
Back in 1998, in his role as an impeachment manager, Buyer cast himself as a voice of reason urging self-restraint.
“I think the mood in the room, everyone understands the seriousness and the gravity of the moment, and we exercise our own self-restraint upon any form of a motion. We’re to act as judges. No one in there should be acting as prosecutors or as defense lawyers,” he said of the impeachment proceedings.
A judgment filed to the federal docket showed that Buyer must “surrender for service of sentence at the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons” before 2 p.m. on Nov. 28. The judge recommended that Buyer be incarcerated in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Buyer also received three years of supervised release on each of the four counts, set to run concurrently.
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