Convicted ex-Shaw executive testifies against brother-in-law at insider trading trial | Courts

A convicted former Shaw Group executive testified Thursday he tipped off his brother-in-law about Shaw’s impending 2012 acquisition by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. and that both men traded on and profited from the inside information.

Federal prosecutors say Scott David Zeringue’s brother-in-law, Ruston dentist Jesse H. Roberts III, turned a $25,000 stock option investment into a $700,000 return thanks to the illegal information Zeringue provided him in early July 2012.

A north Louisiana dentist used an illegal inside scoop from a Shaw Group vice president, who…

“I told him I had gotten some information that may be of interest,” Zeringue said of his initial conversation with Roberts about Shaw’s likely sale, “and that we didn’t need to tell anybody else about this. I thought he could benefit from it.”

Zeringue said he probably had five to six conversations with his brother-in-law about Shaw in the final few weeks leading up to the company’s acquisition.

Roberts is standing trial on single counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. U.S. District Judge John deGravelles is presiding over the trial, which is expected to conclude next week.

Zeringue, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and is awaiting sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, admitted Thursday at Roberts’ trial that he used his Shaw office and work computer to buy 125 shares of Shaw stock at $25.80 a share on July 13, 2012, after he learned from his boss that the sale of Shaw — a Baton Rouge-based engineering and construction firm — was imminent.

A former Shaw Group vice president admitted Friday in Baton Rouge that he engaged in insider…

Zeringue, who already owned 50 shares of Shaw stock at that time, said he sold the 175 shares on July 30, 2012 — the same day it was publicly announced that CB&I had purchased Shaw for $3 billion — at a per share price of $41.85.

Zeringue, who was Shaw’s vice president of construction operations at the time, testified he also asked Roberts to buy $5,000 worth of Shaw stock for him after he learned that Shaw was going to be acquired.

“We were trading on (insider) information,” Zeringue testified while being questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Dippel.

Zeringue said Roberts came to Zeringue’s Baton Rouge home in November 2013 and handed him $30,000 in cash, what Zeringue described as the proceeds of the stock transaction his brother-in-law conducted on Zeringue’s behalf.

Roberts’ lead attorney, former federal prosecutor Shaun Clarke, told the jury on Tuesday that the $30,000 was a gift from the Roberts family to the Zeringue family.

“Jesse handed me the money in my driveway,” Zeringue testified Thursday in front of a 12-person federal court jury and four alternate jurors. “It was three stacks of hundred-dollar bills.”

Zeringue said he hid the money in his bedroom closet without telling his wife about the cash. After twice meeting with FBI agents in March and April of 2014, Zeringue said, he turned over what was left of the money — $18,000 — to the federal agency.

A former Shaw Group vice president and his brother-in-law were accused of insider trading Th…

Zeringue’s attorney, David Rozas, was in the courtroom for his client’s testimony.

Zeringue acknowledged lying to two FBI agents who came to his home in March 2014, but said he told the truth several days later when he met with agents and prosecutors in the very federal courthouse where he testified Thursday. Zeringue said he also testified before a federal grand jury in April 2014.

Zeringue said he paid a $60,000 fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission and forfeited his ability to be an officer or director of a publicly-traded company for 10 years.

When it was his turn to question Zeringue, Clarke painted Zeringue as a habitual liar who “gave up Jesse” to lessen his potential punishment.

“You said you love Jesse and you love his children, but you love your freedom too, don’t you?” Clarke asked sternly.

Roberts allegedly told another Ruston man, Billy J. Adcox Jr., about the information he received from Zeringue. Adcox, who was indicted in 2015 and is awaiting trial, is accused of making $37,000-plus from his alleged illegal insider trading activities.

A third Louisiana resident, and second from Ruston, has been charged with insider trading in…

Just last month, three more people — former Shaw Group employee Kelly Liu and her boyfriend, Salvador Russo III, both of Baton Rouge; and Victory Ho, of Morgan City — were accused by a federal grand jury of insider trading and illegally profiting from Shaw’s sale to CB&I.  

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.

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