An attorney for investment banker Dennis B. Levine, who is accused of making $12.6 million in illegal profits by using insider information in the stock market, said that Levine may invoke his 5th Amendment rights if questioned by government attorneys before a hearing next week.

Martin Flumenbaum asked U.S. District Judge Richard Owen to grant a protective order preventing Securities and Exchange Commission attorneys from taking depositions from Levine and his wife, Laurie Levine, on the grounds that their responses would be the assertion of the constitutionally protected right not to answer.

The request came during a hearing yesterday on procedural questions related to the SEC's investigation, described as the largest insider-trading case ever alleged, and a hearing scheduled for Thursday. In that hearing, the government will seek to extend court orders freezing Levine's assets and barring him from destroying or altering evidence.

During the hearing yesterday, the government attorneys said they want a handwriting sample from Levine to compare with records at the Bank Leu in the Bahamas. The bank was the agent for what the SEC claims are illegal stock trades by Levine.

According to the SEC, Levine used confidential information about pending corporate deals to buy stock before the information became public. Levine has disputed the charges.