Ex-research firm executive sentenced for insider trading

A former investment research firm executive who pleaded guilty to providing inside information to a former SAC Capital Advisors fund manager, among others, was sentenced to a year in prison Thursday.

Tai Nguyen, 50, is one of 76 people charged since August 2009 as part of a broad government crackdown on insider trading on Wall Street.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald in Manhattan to sentence Nguyen to 46 to 57 months in prison, beyond the 30 months recommended by probation officers. Nguyen's lawyer asked for a reduced sentence.

As part of a plea deal, Nguyen will also forfeit $400,000.

"No apology will be enough for what I did," Nguyen said.

Nguyen, the president of the small California-based research firm Insight Research LLC and a consultant for an expert networking firm, pleaded guilty in June 2012 to a count of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud.

Prosecutors say from 2006 to 2009, Nguyen provided to hedge fund employees non-public information regarding the quarterly results of Abaxis Inc. Nguyen said in court papers that his sister worked at the company.

Among those who prosecutors say received Nguyen's tips were Noah Freeman, a former analyst at Sonar Capital Management and later portfolio manager at Steven A. Cohen's SAC. He has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.

U.S. authorities have been probing Cohen's $14 billion hedge for at least six years. No charges have been brought against Cohen and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Nguyen also tipped Samir Barai, a principal at Barai Capital Management. Barai has also pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the government.

In court papers, Nguyen's lawyer said his client on six occasions obtained information from his sister, making $147,000 on the trades off it himself and passing information to Barai and Freeman, whose hedge funds made $6.2 million.

"I made them more important than the people I loved," Nguyen said. "I was weak."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has separately sued Nguyen for insider trading. That case is pending.

The cases is U.S. v Nguyen, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-0079.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)