SEC Charges Golfers in Scam By: Brenda Hamilton Lawyer

Securities Lawyer 101 - Golfers Charged in Scam

Securities Law Blog

On July 11, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against a group of golfing friends, who made more than $554,000 of illegal profits from trading on inside information about Massachusetts-based American Superconductor Corporation.

The SEC charges filed in federal court in Boston, the SEC alleges that Eric McPhail repeatedly provided non-public information about American Superconductor to six others, most fellow competitive amateur golfers.  McPhail’s source was an American Superconductor executive who belonged to the same country club as McPhail and was a close friend.

According to the SEC Charges, from July 2009 through April 2011, the executive told McPhail about American Superconducter’s expected earnings, contracts, and other major pending corporate developments, trusting that McPhail would keep the information confidential.

Instead, McPhail, of Waltham, Massachusetts, misappropriated the inside information about the energy technology company and fed it to his friends, often via email.  The insider-trading ring included a handful of golfing buddies, four of whom live in Massachusetts: Douglas A. Parigian of Lowell, John J. Gilmartin of Andover, Douglas Clapp of Walpole, and James A. “Andy” Drohen of Granville. The fifth, Drohen’s brother, John C. Drohen, is a resident of Cranston, Rhode Island.  In addition to the group of golfers, McPhail tipped a sixth man, his longtime friend Jamie A. Meadows, of Springfield, Massachusetts.  According to the SEC charges, each of the six traded and profited on the inside information McPhail supplied to them.

“Whether the tips are passed on the golf course, in a bar, or elsewhere, the SEC will continue to track down those who seek an unfair advantage trading stocks,” said Paul G. Levenson, director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.  “Working with our partners in law enforcement, we are sending a message to all investors that insider trading does not pay.”

According to the SEC charges, in April 2011, McPhail tipped Parigian and Meadows a few days before American Superconductor announced that it expected fourth-quarter and fiscal year-end results to be weaker due to a deteriorating relationship with its primary customer, China-based Sinovel Wind Group Co., Ltd.  Parigian and Meadows used the information to place bets, through option contracts, that the company’s stock price would decline. When American Superconductor made the announcement, its stock price fell 42 percent and as a result of this one tip alone, Parigian made profits and avoided losses of $278,289, while Meadows made profits of $191,521.

McPhail tipped the various defendants on other occasions, funneling them inside information about American Superconductor’s quarterly earnings announcements in July and September 2009, and again in January 2010.  He also alerted them in the fall of 2009 to a contract worth $100 million, and in November 2010 to a likely drop in American Superconductor’s share’s price, which occurred a few days later when AMSC announced a secondary stock offering.

The SEC charges allege that McPhail, Parigian, Gilmartin, Clapp, the Drohens, and Meadows violated federal antifraud laws and the SEC’s antifraud rule, and seeks to have them be enjoined, return their allegedly ill-gotten gains with interest, and pay financial penalties of up to three times their gains.  Gilmartin, Clapp, and the Drohens agreed to settle the SEC charges, without admitting or denying the allegations, by consenting to the entry of judgments permanently enjoining them from violating the relevant securities laws.  The judgments also order:

  • Gilmartin to return $23,713 in trading profits plus prejudgment interest of $4,034 and a civil penalty of $23,713, for a total of $51,460
  • Clapp to return $11,848 in trading profits plus prejudgment interest of $1,767 and a civil penalty of $11,848, for a total of $25,463
  • Andy Drohen to return $22,543 in trading profits plus prejudgment interest of $3,845 and a civil penalty of $22,543, for a total of $48,931
  • John Drohen to return $8,972 in trading profits plus prejudgment interest of $1,511 and a civil penalty of $8,972, for a total of $19,455

For further information about this securities law blog post, please contact Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney at 101 Plaza Real S, Suite 202 N, Boca Raton, Florida, (561) 416-8956, by email at [email protected] or visit www.securitieslawyer101.com.   This securities law blog post is provided as a general informational service to clients and friends of Hamilton & Associates Law Group and should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal and compliance advice on any specific matter, nor does this message create an attorney-client relationship. Please note that the prior results discussed herein do not guarantee similar outcomes.

Hamilton & Associates | Securities Lawyers
Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
101 Plaza Real South, Suite 202 North
Boca Raton, Florida 33432
Telephone: (561) 416-8956
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www.SecuritiesLawyer101.com