A lawyer for Yonni Sebbag, the California man who pleaded guilty in a scheme to leak Walt Disney Co. earnings information, asked a court to sentence his client to time served, or eight months in jail, in what he called a “hare-brained scheme.”
The attorney, Steven R. Kartagener, wrote to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood today asking for less than the 27 to 33 months recommended by federal guidelines when she sentences Sebbag, 30, on Jan. 28. Sebbag turned to crime after failing in the restaurant business then losing money in day-trading and gambling, the lawyer wrote.
“Defendant’s foolhardy undertaking was driven by defendant’s desperation in the face of his failing business, and by a gambling addiction which began to take control of his life,” Kartagener said in a letter to Wood.
Sebbag and his girlfriend, Bonnie Hoxie, pleaded guilty to attempting to sell confidential information about the entertainment company’s quarterly earnings. Hoxie, a former executive assistant to Disney corporate communications chief Zenia Mucha, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 22.
Sebbag, a Moroccan citizen, faces deportation in addition to prison time, Kartagener said in the letter.
Prosecutors claimed Sebbag sent letters in March to at least 33 investment companies, including hedge funds, offering to sell confidential information about Burbank, California-based Disney.
On March 11, an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation began reaching out to the pair, according to the charging document filed in New York. On May 8, the two gave undercover FBI agents internal Disney documents, according to the filing.
None of the funds acted on the tips, a person familiar with the matter said. Disney said it cooperated with prosecutors.
“This hare-brained scheme was obviously doomed to fail from the start,” said Kartagenerin the letter. “Defendant is extremely remorseful, and knows that what he did was stupid and wrong.”
The case is U.S. v. Hoxie, 10-mag-01113, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).