(Adds comment from defense lawyer)
By Nate Raymond
May 11 A Florida lawyer and his neighbor were
arrested on Thursday on charges that they engaged in a nearly $1
million insider trading scheme using information the attorney
improperly obtained from his law firm's databases, prosecutors
Walter "Chet" Little, who was a partner at the law firm
Foley & Lardner when prosecutors said the trading took place,
and Andrew Berke were charged with conspiracy and securities
fraud in a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.
Little, who left Foley in 2016 and joined the law firm
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, and Berke were arrested in
Florida, where both men reside, according to the office of
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also filed a
civil lawsuit against both men.
"We are evaluating the allegations and our response," Todd
Foster, a lawyer for Little, said in a statement. "Mr. Little
maintains his innocence."
Berke's lawyer, Caroline Mehta, declined to comment.
Beginning in 2015, the complaint said, Little used Foley's
document management system to access information about at least
seven law firm clients including Oshkosh Corp and
Harley-Davidson Inc, even though he billed no work for
After learning about upcoming mergers, earnings and other
corporate events involving those companies, prosecutors said,
Little bought and sold stock and options ahead of public
announcements, making more than $320,000 in profits.
He also passed the inside information to Berke, prosecutors
said. The SEC said Berke was an executive at a logistics company
who has since 2013 lived in the same community as Little, Apollo
Prosecutors said that by placing trades based on the inside
information, Berke earned around $660,000.
Daniel Farrell, a spokesman for Foley & Lardner, said in a
statement that the 840-lawyer firm learned about the activity at
issue in June 2016 and reported the matter to authorities.
"We take this matter very seriously, and we have zero
tolerance for actions that violate our core values and the trust
our clients place in us," Farrell said.
Little joined Bradley Arant's Tampa office in July, focusing
on representing residential and commercial developers. That law
firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The case is U.S. v. Little, et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 17-mj-3408.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Steve