Bonnie and Yonni — Disney dynamic duo, immortalized
Bonnie and Yonni are unlikely to go down in the history books as among the nimblest of partners-in-crime. But they might have earned a prominent place among the most candid.
Accoding to U.S. prosecutors, Bonnie Hoxie — an assistant to Disney’s PR chief — and boyfried Yonni Sebbag hatched a less-than-elaborate scheme in which she gets her hands on confidential and potentially stock market-moving material – Disney financial information — and passes it on to Sebbag. Like the Wall Street equivalent of a pusher, Sebbag set out to construct a network of hedge-fund consumers for that info who could then profit off of it, according to court documents filed.
Set for life. Easy.
Thing is, on the day of the alleged crime (the release of Disney’s second quarter earnings), Hoxie — according to prosecutors — sent messages to Sebbag from her work email account and from her personal cellphone. Several of the hedge funds contacted by Sebbag — perhaps spooked by the ever-widening fallout from the Galleon insider trading probe — went straight to the Feds. Sebbag himself got fooled by an undercover FBI agent into a face-to-face meeting in New York during which money allegedly changed hands. He told the agent he’d suspected others that had contacted him of being Feds (he was right there).
According to legal filings, Sebbag in his letter to hedge funds made no bones about what he was trying to do.
“I have access to Disney’s quarterly earnings report before its release on 05/03/10. I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later,” a rather frank Sebbag wrote in his email, according to prosecutors.
That’s when the plot started to come apart at the seams. Undercover agents made contact instead and pretended to take Sebbag up on his offer. They got a 107-page document on May 9 – two days before Disney’s results were due for release — outline key talking points for the upcoming event. According to the filings, the agents were also promised the full quarterly report 2-3 hours before its release.
Things really went pear-shaped on May 11, the day of Disney’s earnings release. Hoxie could not get the quarterly report ahead of time, according to the filings. Seeking to calm an apparently irate Sebbag, Hoxie emailed her boyfriend — from her work account: “What would you suggest I do. If I could wave my magic wand and give you what you want — I would. However, since that is not going to happen I suggest you call on you inner Buddhist — and CHILL the f’ out.”
As chronicled in the filings, Sebbag was forced to take on the role of apologetic customer service representative, phoning the agents to explain delays, promising imment delivery, and placating what he thought were increasingly aggravated clients of his, the filings showed.