One Man Arrested, Three Others Convicted for Securities Fraud Conspiracy Involving Mercer County Pharmaceutical Company
NEWARK, N.J. – One man was arrested and three others pleaded guilty today for their roles in an insider trading scheme that profited from yet-to-be public information concerning a pharmaceutical company that developed a drug to treat cancer, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
Daniel Perez, 28, of Yardley, Pennsylvania, was arrested this morning and charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. He is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court.
Evan Kita, 27, of Yardley, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud. Richard Yu, 27, and his father, Chiang Yu, 55, both of Pennington, New Jersey, also pleaded guilty today before Judge Shipp to separate informations charging them each with one count of securities fraud. All three were released on $150,000 unsecured bond.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
Celator Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Celator) was a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Ewing Township, New Jersey, that developed the drug Vyxeos to treat acute myeloid leukemia. In December 2012, Celator began Phase 3 clinical trials for Vyxeos, the results of which were highly confidential within the company. On March 14, 2016, Celator issued a press release announcing that the clinical trial results were positive.
Prior to the March 2016 announcement, Kita, who was a Celator employee from June 2013 through April 2016, learned that the Vyxeos clinical trials had produced positive results. Kita then shared that information with Perez and Richard Yu, who both traded on the information.
On May 31, 2016, Celator and Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC (Jazz) – a publicly-traded company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland – announced that they had entered an agreement for Jazz to purchase Celator in a transaction valued at approximately $1.5 billion. Jazz completed the acquisition of Celator in 2016, and now operates Celator as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Kita learned of the potential acquisition prior to the public announcement from two close friends who still worked at Celator. Again, Kita shared the information with Perez and Richard Yu, who both traded on the information. Richard Yu, in turn, shared the information with Chiang Yu, who also traded on the information and agreed to share the profits with Kita.
Kita admitted that the gain resulting from his insider trading scheme was more than $250,000, but not more than $550,000. Chiang Yu admitted that the gains associated with his offense were more than $95,000, but not more than $150,000. Richard Yu admitted that the gains associated with his offense were $200,070.29.
The conspiracy to commit securities fraud counts carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The securities fraud counts carry a potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Sentencing for Kita, Richard Yu, and Chiang Yu is set for Dec. 5, 2017.
The charge and allegations against Perez are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint against all four defendants today.
Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation. He also thanked the SEC for the assistance provided by its Market Abuse Unit, under the direction of Joseph Sansone and Robert Cohen, and its Philadelphia Regional Office, under the direction of G. Jeffrey Boujoukos.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Shapiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
This case is part of efforts underway by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The task force was established to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices, and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets; and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.
Perez: Louis R. Busico Esq., Newton, Pennsylvania
Kita: Robert Heim Esq., New York
Richard Yu: Rubin Sinins Esq., Springfield, New Jersey
Chiang Yu: Kristen Santillo Esq., Newark, New Jersey