August 17, 2012 / 7:49 PM / 6 years ago

Baseball star Eddie Murray settles SEC insider trading charges

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. securities regulators on Friday charged Hall of Fame baseball player Eddie Murray with insider trading in shares of a medical device company, an allegation the former Baltimore Orioles first baseman settled by paying a $358,151 penalty.

Former Baltimore Orioles first baseman and member of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame Eddie Murray throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Orioles' MLB American League baseball game against the New York Yankees in Baltimore, Maryland June 8, 2010. REUTERS/Joe Giza

The Securities and Exchange Commission also filed civil charges against two other people, accusing them of insider trading in shares of Advanced Medical Optics before the company announced it was being acquired in 2009 by Abbott Laboratories.

Murray, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, agreed to settle the civil charges without admitting wrongdoing, according to an SEC announcement.

“Eddie Murray is admitting no wrongdoing whatsoever - the settlement agreement confirms that fact,” Murray’s lawyer, Michael Proctor, said. “He has settled this to put the case to an end and get on with his life.”

Reuters had previously reported Murray was under investigation in the case as part of a broader look into potential insider trading by former professional athletes.

The SEC also filed charges against James V. Mazzo, who was the chief executive officer of Advanced Medical Optics at the time of the buyout, and a Utah businessman, David Parker. The agency said Mazzo and Parker are fighting the charges.

The SEC has accused Mazzo, an avid baseball fan and friend of another former Orioles team member, Doug DeCinces, of tipping the former player on the deal. DeCinces then passed the information to Murray and Parker, according to the SEC announcement.

“Mazzo had repeated personal contacts and communications with DeCinces, who promptly traded and tipped Murray, Parker and others that a deal involving Mazzo’s company was imminent,” said Daniel M. Hawke, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Market Abuse Unit and director of the Philadelphia Regional Office.

Mazzo’s lawyer, Richard Marmaro, said Mazzo “flatly and unequivocally denies the SEC’s allegations”.

“Mr. Mazzo has a spotless reputation for professionalism, integrity, and service to his community, built up over a career of 30 years. The notion that he would put all that at risk to give a single friend inside information is absurd,” Marmaro said.

Parker’s lawyer, James Smith, declined to comment.

The SEC filed charges against DeCinces in August 2011. DeCinces settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay $2.5 million in fines, while neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing in the trading of Advanced Medical Optics shares. A lawyer for DeCinces did not respond to a request for comment.

DeCinces and Murray played together on the Orioles from 1977 to 1982.

“It is truly disappointing when role models, particularly those who have achieved so much in their professional careers, give in to the temptation of easy money,” Hawke said.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Matthew Goldstein and Dale Hudson

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