Ex-analyst gets nearly 4 years in prison for insider trading

A former investment fund analyst for Michael Dell's personal investment firm was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years in prison for an insider trading conviction.

John Afriyie, 29, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, who said he would have imposed a sentence of three years or less if Afriyie had admitted his crimes rather than gone to trial.

"Your fraud was a classic instance of insider trading," Engelmayer told Afriyie, a Freehold, New Jersey, resident who apologized to family and friends before the plea was announced.

"This was insider trading 101," the judge added.

A jury convicted him in January of securities and wire fraud, finding that he earned over $1.5 million in illicit profits in early 2016 by making 28 separate trades in a two-week period based on secrets about a pending merger that he stole from his employer, MSD Capital. The same jury also found that $2.6 million in funds seized after his arrest were subject to forfeiture as the proceeds of his crimes.

Engelmayer also ordered Afriyie to pay $690,000 in restitution to cover the legal fees incurred by MSD Capital as a result of the investigation into his wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said he lied to the FBI after his arrest about his trades in option securities and falsely claimed that his own voice on a recorded call with his broker was really his mother's voice. The government said he also tried to delete the contents of an email account that he used to communicate with his broker.

The former analyst has been held without bail after he failed to show up on the first day of his trial. He left the Manhattan courtroom in shackles.

Engelmayer noted that Afriyie could have faced between six and eight years in prison if he had followed federal sentencing guidelines.

An attorney for Afriyie had requested a one-year prison term for his client.

In a release, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said Afriyie "used his own mother and destroyed emails to cover up his crimes. The heavy price of the illegal edge Afriyie sought was his liberty."