Brian Jorgenson, a former Microsoft employee, was sentenced to two years in prison last week for passing inside information to a stock trader. The 32-year-old was a corporate-finance manager at the software giant when he passed confidential information to his friend Sean Stokke.
Jorgenson and Stokke were accused of insider trading on three occasions: Microsoft's 2012 investment in Barnes & Noble and the Redmond-based company's two quarterly reports. According to the US attorney's office, the two men, who had earlier worked together at an asset management company, made a total of $415,000 from the three trades.
Back in 2012, Microsoft invested $300 million in Nook Media, Barnes & Noble's digital book business. Anticipating a rise in the value of the company's shares, Jorgenson passed the information to Stokke before the news was made public. Following the announcement, the bookseller’s share price jumped by about 50 percent, and the pair earned $184,000.
Jorgenson repeated the process two further times, leaking the information about Microsoft's failure to meet earnings expectations in Q4, 2013 and the company's increased Q1 profit in 2014.
"I cheated," Jorgenson said in the court. "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".
Stokke was sentenced to between one and one and a half years in prison last month. On the other hand, Jorgenson, who had asked for one year and a day in prison along with 500 hours of community service, was handed down a harsher sentence. "It is important that you serve as a public example", US District Judge Marsha Pechman said.