Ex-printing plant worker pleads guilty in trading case
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former worker at a plant in Wisconsin that printed BusinessWeek magazines pleaded guilty on Friday for his role in a far-flung insider trading scheme that netted more than $6.7 million.
Juan Renteria, 22, who worked at a Wisconsin printing plant, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and insider trading charges during a hearing before Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Renteria, along with another printing plant worker, Nickolaus Shuster, was accused of stealing advance copies of the magazine and passing on names of stocks mentioned in its "Inside Wall Street" column to two former Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> employees, Eugene Plotkin and David Pajcin.
Renteria is the last of six defendants in the case to plead guilty for his involvement in the insider-trading ring, which authorities said was led by Plotkin and Pajcin.
"In the beginning, I did not appreciate that my conduct was against the law," Renteria, who was wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, told the judge.
Renteria, who authorities said along with Shuster was paid $500 or more for each copy of the magazine, said he eventually understood that it was illegal but continued to do it.
Renteria faces a maximum of 25 years in prison, but his lawyer, Gary Becker, said after the hearing that the sentencing range recommended under the plea agreement would be "relatively low."
The ring made millions from illegal trading on news of upcoming mergers, including Procter & Gamble Co's <PG.N> acquisition of Gillette Co and Adidas' <ADSG.DE> acquisition of Reebok, prosecutors have said.
The case began in August 2005, when regulators grew suspicious of the options-trading profits of a 63-year-old retired seamstress in Croatia. The account belonging to the retiree was frozen and her nephew, Pajcin, was charged with insider trading.
The Harvard-educated Plotkin and several other defendants were arrested in April 2006 by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the case along with the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.
Plotkin and Pajcin were also accused of trading off tips leaked by Stanislav Shpigelman, an ex-Merrill Lynch and Co Inc <MER.N> investment banking analyst.
They also got information from a New Jersey grand juror, Jason Smith, about an investigation of drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co <BMY.N>, prosecutors have said.
(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Brian Moss)