Following insider trading charges brought in May, former Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and Foley & Lardner partner Walter “Chet” Little formally denied the allegations in court on Thursday, entering a not-guilty plea alongside a co-defendant in the criminal case.
Little faces criminal charges that he profited from options and stock trades based on confidential information related to a number of Foley & Lardner’s clients, including Oshkosh Corp., Whiting Petroleum Corp. and Harley-Davidson Inc., according to the complaint brought against him by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office. Little also faces allegations that he passed information to a neighbor, Andrew Berke, who allegedly used it to trade.
Berke faces criminal charges as well, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a parallel civil complaint. The government maintains that the two men collectively took in more than $1 million in illicit profits.
At an arraignment and pretrial conference on Thursday in Manhattan federal court, both Little and Berke pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case, Little’s defense lawyer, Todd Foster of Tampa, Florida-based Todd Foster Law Group, confirmed on Friday.
A real estate and banking lawyer, Little did not represent the Foley & Lardner clients detailed in the criminal complaint against him. He is accused, however, of making at least $327,000 in illicit profits by trading on inside information he accessed through Foley & Lardner’s internal computer network between February 2015 and May 2016.
Following the government’s announcement of the case in May, a spokesman for Foley & Lardner said in a statement that it had opened an internal investigation after learning of trading activity involving a firm lawyer in June 2016. During that review, the firm found violations of its policies, leading to the partner’s dismissal. The firm also reported its findings to the relevant authorities and cooperated with their investigation, the spokesman said.
The case against Little was announced less than a year after he had left Foley & Lardner and joined Bradley Arant. His most recent firm quickly dismissed Little once it learned of the insider trading charges.
Bradley Arant managing partner Beau Grenier said in May that his firm performed significant due diligence before hiring Little, but wasn’t aware of any investigations until the lawyer was arrested. Little was reportedly released on bail in late May.
Scott Flaherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.