NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A former Merck & Co. senior finance analyst pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Thursday to insider trading charges.
Zachary Zwerko, 32, admitted passing tips to a friend who prosecutors say used them to make $722,000 illegally in the stock market.
Zwerko, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in U.S. District 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 Zwerko was paid at least $50,000 in cash for passing along secrets about likely candidates for mergers and acquisitions.
She said Zwerko had an arrangement with his friend that would result in Zwerko splitting profits, though Zwerko shook his head as she described it to the judge.
Zwerko's lawyer, Gary Pelletier, said he will seek leniency for his client at a May 15 sentencing.
A criminal complaint said Zwerko fed secrets about plans for acquisitions by the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck to a former schoolmate at Rutgers Business School.
Zwerko said he provided information about companies he thought might be involved in mergers or acquisitions on three occasions between April 2012 and last July.
``I conspired with a friend at the time to make a certain amount of money,'' he said.
The friend was listed as a co-conspirator in court papers.
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