Former eBay Exec Gets Prison for Insider Trading

(The Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT) -

A former eBay executive was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in federal prison for insider trading tied to the internet auction site’s 2011 acquisition of a King of Prussia-based e-commerce firm.

Christopher Saridakis, 45, of Wilmington, Del., pleaded guilty in May, admitting he tipped off friends and relatives to a pending $2.4 billion deal between San Jose, Calif.-based eBay and GSI Commerce, where he worked as a marketing director.

Saridakis was named a senior vice president at eBay after GSI’s purchase. His friends made more than $300,000 in illegal profits when GSI’s stock price jumped more than 50 percent upon the announcement of its sale.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge Stuart Dalzell on Wednesday, Saridakis sought probation. He has already settled a separate civil action with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for $664,800, said his lawyer, Richard Zack.

“Mr. Saridakis has accepted responsibility for his actions,” Zack said. “He has resolved all matters with the government and wishes to move forward with his life.”

Dalzell, however, likened a probationary sentence to a slap on the wrist, saying some prison time was warranted in the case. However, the 15-month sentence he handed down was half of what prosecutors had recommended.

The SEC suit also named Jules Gardner, 53, of Villanova, Pa., as a defendant and detailed a text-message conversation between him and Saridakis just days before the sale of GSI was announced.

The two met while working at PointRoll Inc., a mobile marketing company founded by Gardner and sold to media giant Gannett Co. in 2005.

Do you “own our shares?” Saridakis asked Gardner on March 20, 2011. When Gardner replied he did not, Saridakis responded with texts saying “you should” and “soon.”

Gardner, who cooperated with FBI agents, was not charged in the criminal case. He paid back the $259,054 he made off of the stock trade, the SEC said.

Four other traders who either received tips from Saridakis or from others he had told have also agreed to forfeit nearly $160,000 in stock-trade profits.

GSI Commerce, which specializes in creating online shopping sites for brick-and-mortar retailers, was renamed eBay Enterprise after its acquisition.