Guilty plea in Disney insider trading scheme

Bonnie Hoxie's sentencing set for Dec. 21

NEW YORK — A former assistant to a top executive at Walt Disney Co. pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud charges, admitting her role in the quest to sell secrets about the company’s finances to financial companies before the information was made public.

Bonnie Hoxie, 34, formerly the secretary to Disney’s head of corporate communications, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in a plea deal with the government.

The written plea agreement said federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of between four and 10 months in prison. Sentencing was set for Dec. 21.

Hoxie was charged along with her boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag, after both were arrested in May in California. Sebbag, 30, a citizen of Morocco, has already pleaded guilty to the same charges in a deal that recommends he serve between two and three years in prison.

“Today, Bonnie Hoxie admitted to playing with a stacked deck by selling valuable Disney secrets to make a quick buck,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. A message for comment left with Hoxie’s lawyer was not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said Hoxie fed information such as Disney’s quarterly earnings before they were publicly released to Sebbag, who tried to sell the inside tips to 33 investment companies.

The government said the pair, both residents of Los Angeles, arranged for anonymous letters offering to sell secrets to be sent to the investment companies, many of which were located in Manhattan. Most of the hedge funds and companies that received the offers notified the FBI.

Federal agents then posed as hedge fund traders and offered to buy the information from Sebbag and Hoxie, prosecutors said.

Without the plea deals, the pair could have faced up to 25 years in prison on the charges.

Authorities said the arrests came after Sebbag met two undercover FBI agents in New York and accepted $15,000 in cash for providing inside information. Prosecutors said he agreed to provide similar confidential information in the future in return for a 30 percent share of any profits from early trades.