Minor league baseball players indicted for insider trading

Minor league baseball player Jordan Qsar allegedly learned about Del Taco’s acquisition from a friend who worked for Jack In The Box’s strategic finance department.

SAN DIEGO — Three current and former minor league baseball players were indicted by federal prosecutors in San Diego for allegedly engaging in insider trading in Del Taco stocks.

The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Jordan Qsar, 28, Grant Witherspoon, 27, and Austin Bernard, 28, on federal charges on Tuesday for allegedly purchasing Del Taco stocks after receiving advanced notice of the company’s acquisition by Jack In The Box in 2021.

Qsar, Witherspoon and Bernard illegally earned nearly $190,000 by using the inside information, according to prosecutors.

According to the indictment, Qsar, a Valhalla High School graduate, learned about the acquisition from a close friend who worked for the San Diego-based Jack In The Box’s strategic finance department. Prosecutors allege Qsar’s friend was also working on the acquisition project.

In the following months, the indictment states Qsar shared the inside information with Witherspoon, and Bernard, a Valley Center High School graduate, who knew Qsar through collegiate and minor league baseball teams at Pepperdine University and the Tampa Bay Rays.

The indictment states the three men purchased Del Taco stocks and tipped others with the inside information. 

According to the indictment, following Jack in the Box and Del Taco announcing its acquisition plans on December 6, 2021, Del Taco stocks jumped in price from $7.53 to $12.51 per share, increasing 66% from the previous day’s closing price.

According to the indictment, all three men sold their Del Taco stocks which earned Qsar $56,000, Witherspoon $41,800 and Bernard $64,600.

“The system has to be fair for everyone, or the market fails,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “Those who seek to undermine this system for personal gain will face consequences.”

The three men are facing federal conspiracy, securities fraud, aiding and abetting and criminal forfeiture charges. 

The charges carry a maximum sentence of five to 20 years if convicted.

“Insider trading directly affects the integrity of our economy,” said FBI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to ensure people who intentionally undermine and threaten our economy will be brought to justice.”

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