Ex-AT&T Employee Admits to Passing Tips on Apple, RIM

A former AT&T Inc. employee admitted to passing inside information about the company and suppliers including Apple Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. to the clients of an expert-networking firm.

Alnoor Ebrahim, 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Tanzania, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud at a hearing today in Manhattan federal court.

Ebrahim said that from late 2008 through 2010 he was paid $180,000 for his work for the expert-networking firm, which wasn’t identified during the hearing. Clients of the firm that were tipped included at least one hedge fund.

“I provided inside information concerning AT&T’s sales of Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry products, as well as other handset devices sold through AT&T’s distribution channels,” Ebrahim told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken at the hearing.

Ebrahim was identified as a former consultant to expert networking firm Primary Global Research LLC, in court documents in the criminal case against James Fleishman, an ex-Primary Global executive who was convicted and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Cooperating Witness

According to the charges admitted to by Ebrahim, in September 2009 he passed inside tips about AT&T’s iPhone sales to a witness who was cooperating with the authorities; in June 2010, he spoke with an employee of a New York hedge fund as part of the conspiracy; and in August 2010, he passed information to an investment company employee about sales of RIM products.

Ebrahim faces as long as five years in prison when he’s sentenced on Oct. 25. Both sides agreed that federal sentencing guidelines call for him to get 18 to 24 months in prison and pay a fine of $4,000 to $40,000, according to a plea agreement. He was released today on a $50,000 bond.

“We took this matter very seriously and cooperated fully with the authorities,” Marty Richter, a spokesman for Dallas-based AT&T, said in a statement. “The conduct alleged was clearly against our code of business conduct, and Mr. Ebrahim is no longer an AT&T employee.”

Ebrahim, whom prosecutors said was an associate director of channel marketing for AT&T Mobility in Atlanta, left the company in January 2011, according to Richter.

The case is U.S. v. Ebrahim, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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