Former Merck financial analyst pleads guilty to insider trading charges

Markets Associated Press

A former Merck & Co. senior finance analyst has pleaded guilty in New York to insider trading charges.

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Zachary Zwerko pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to commit securities fraud and three securities fraud counts. A plea agreement recommended a three to four-year prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Masella said the 32-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident passed along secrets that earned $722,000 in illegal profits.

Zwerko's lawyer, Gary Pelletier, said he'll seek leniency for his client at a May 15 sentencing.

A criminal complaint says Zwerko fed secrets about plans for acquisitions by the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck to a former schoolmate at Rutgers Business School. Prosecutors say Zwerko accepted at least $50,000 in cash while the friend earned profits trading illegally.