Apple ex-lawyer ordered to pay $1.15 million SEC fine for insider trading

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The former senior Apple lawyer who avoided prison time after pleading guilty to insider trading must pay a $1.15 million fine in a related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil case, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark, New Jersey, said that while Gene Levoff "was not living excessively, his violations were nonetheless especially egregious" given the lawyer's former role enforcing Apple's insider trading policies.

Levoff had been senior director of corporate law at Apple before the iPhone maker fired him in September 2018.

Prosecutors charged him five months later with making stock trades based on advance nonpublic information about Cupertino, California-based Apple's earnings announcements.

Levoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud in June 2022, and was sentenced by Martini in December to four years of probation, 2,000 hours of community service and a $604,000 forfeiture.

The proposed SEC fine was triple Levoff's estimated $384,400 profit or avoided losses on six trades.

In court papers, Levoff called the fine unnecessary, saying he had been punished enough and made no effort to hide his stress-induced trading, which he labeled "self-sabotage."

But the judge said Levoff, a Stanford University law school graduate, knew his trading was wrong, and could handle the fine given his estimated $13 million net worth.

"Regardless of why he was trying to get caught, he acted knowingly and willfully," Martini wrote.

Kevin Marino, a lawyer for Levoff, said in an email: "We are of course disappointed, but Judge Martini has been fair and even-handed throughout this case and we respect his decision. Mr. Levoff is pleased to put this matter behind him and move on with his life."

The case is SEC v Levoff, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 19-05536.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)