Ex-Microsoft manager Brian Jorgenson was sentenced to two years in prison today after pleading guilty to charges of insider trading.
The 32-year-old worked in Microsoft’s corporate finance and investment division and used confidential information to help a friend, Sean Stokke, make trades that earned the pair more than $400,000 in an 18-month period.
The duo started making the insider trades after Jorgenson told Stokke in 2012 about Microsoft’s plans to invest in Barnes & Noble. At the time, Stokke purchased options predicting that Barnes & Noble’s stock would rise, ahead of the announcement. The bookseller’s stock price jumped after Microsoft revealed its investment, and netted Stokke $184,000, which he shared with Jorgenson.
After that first score, prosecutors said the pair went on to take out options on Microsoft stock or an exchange-traded fund based on information about quarterly earnings reports that would surprise Wall Street investors. Stokke would pay Jorgenson in $10,000 cash increments to avoid getting caught.
“I cheated,” Jorgenson said at court today. “I tried to take a shortcut for my own financial gain…. I persuaded myself it was a gray area, when it clearly was black and white.”
“Motivated by greed, this defendant traded on his employer’s confidential information to line his own pocket,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan added in a statement. “Western Washington abounds in publicly traded companies with thousands of insiders who have daily access to market moving information. The sentence in this case should serve as a warning to others who might be tempted to engage in this conduct.”
Stokke was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.