NEW YORK (AP) — A former portfolio manager convicted of helping his firm earn more than a quarter-billion dollars illegally through insider trading on a promising Alzheimer’s drug trial was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison by a judge who said lengthy incarceration was earned with a staggering fraud that was the biggest of its kind.
Mathew Martoma, his face drawn, left federal court in Manhattan holding his wife’s hand after U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe ordered him to begin serving the sentence in November for his February conviction on charges of conspiracy and two counts of securities fraud.
A jury found Martoma, of Boca Raton, Florida, had flattered and enriched two medical doctors with inside information about the secret results of an Alzheimer’s drug trial so they would tip him off and he could trade ahead of public announcements, enabling his Stamford, Connecticut-based employer, SAC Capital Advisors, to earn more than $275 million illegally. The success caused the firm, headed by billionaire Steven A. Cohen, to reward him with more than $9 million in bonuses.
The judge ordered Martoma to forfeit $9.3 million, including his home and banks accounts holding millions of dollars in the names of him and his wife.
Martoma, 40, declined to comment before the sentence. As the judge announced the sentence, saying “the sums here are staggering in size,” Martoma stood and looked straight ahead, and his wife wiped her eyes with a tissue.
The judge said the illegal edge Martoma obtained as he traded in the stocks was a crime that is “deeply corrosive to our markets” and caused people to be cynical about the financial industry.
“The gain here is hundreds of millions of dollars more than has ever been seen in an insider trading prosecution,” the judge said.
He rejected requests by Martoma’s defense attorney, Richard Strassberg, that he receive a sentence of two to three years in prison because of his charitable work and the need to take care of his wife and three children, ages 9, 7, and 5.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that the “long and short of Mathew Martoma’s trading is that he traded his liberty, his name and his time with his family for what in the end is nothing.”
Strassberg had insisted Martoma made a sensible decision to sell the bloated stocks of the pharmaceutical companies that sponsored the drug trial.
At Martoma’s trial, Sidney Gilman, a former professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School, testified he gave Martoma secret results of the drug trial sponsored by drugmakers Elan Corp. and Wyeth nearly two weeks before they were publicly announced in the summer of 2008.
Gilman, once one of the world’s top Alzheimer’s experts, said he was charmed by Martoma, who seemed more knowledgeable about his work than hundreds of other financial professionals who paid Gilman more than $1 million over several years for consultations.
SAC Capital pleaded guilty in November to fraud charges and agreed to pay $1.8 billion to settle charges that it allowed, if not encouraged, insider trading for more than a decade. But Cohen has disputed the allegations involving his company.