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Pro baseball players charged with insider trading of Del Taco stock

Four minor league players are accused of illegally profiting nearly $190,000 after being tipped off on Del Taco's 2021 merger with Jack in the Box.
Pro baseball players charged with insider trading of Del Taco stock
Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 28, 2024

Four current and former minor league baseball players have been charged with insider trading of Del Taco stocks.

Jordan Qsar, Austin Bernard, Grant Witherspoon and Chase Lambert are accused of illegally trading shares of the restaurant chain based off information they learned before the company was bought by Jack in the Box in 2021. The group allegedly made nearly $190,000 in profits off the merger, according to a complaint filed by the U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission.

Court documents claim that Qsar — who was a minor league baseball player at the time — learned about the acquisition deal before it was formally announced from a friend who worked in finance at Jack in the Box. The complaint alleges the employee — who was not charged or identified in court documents — believed Qsar would keep the information private. 

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Instead, prosecutors say Qsar purchased call options at the time and tipped off other current or former teammates about the deal. They also reportedly purchased call options. After news of the merger was made public, shares in Del Taco jumped from $7.53 to $12.51 per share, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege that Qsar made about $56,500, Witherspoon made about $42,800, Bernard made about $64,700, and Lambert made about $25,100 in illegal profits.  All four men face hefty fines and time behind bars on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, aiding and abetting in wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture, according to court documents. 

"Insider trading directly affects the integrity of our economy," FBI Special Agent Stacey Moy said in a statement. "We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to ensure people who intentionally undermine and threaten our economy will be brought to justice." 

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