A former vice president of MedImmune Inc. was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in prison on charges stemming from a series of improper stock trades.
Eric I. Tsao, a former scientist at the Gaithersburg biotech firm, pleaded guilty in September to an insider trading charge connected with $164,132 in gains he made from 1999 to 2001, buying and selling stock in companies that MedImmune later acquired. He funneled the trades through a Charles Schwab account registered to his father, who lives in Taiwan.
He also pleaded guilty to lying to Securities and Exchange Commission officials who investigated the transactions. Under oath, he told them that his wife made the trades, at times using his office computer. Tsao settled civil insider trading charges with the SEC last year, agreeing to pay more than $330,000 in fines.
During yesterday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. said, according to a transcript, "People who are privileged, who are smart, who are benefited by the society, should understand that they cannot break the rules. They cannot. And that if they do, they will be punished."
Tsao, 44, spoke briefly to the court. "I'm terribly sorry for what I have done," he said. "I made serious judgment errors in this matter. This is the biggest lesson I have learned in my life, in the hardest way."
Thirteen of Tsao's former colleagues at MedImmune filed letters with the court on his behalf, according to prosecutors. He started working for the company as a senior scientist in 1992.
Tsao's sentence also includes two years of supervised release, an order to pay $164,132 in restitution and a fine of $5,000.