Ex-US congressman from Indiana gets bail in stock cheat case

A former U.S. congressman from Indiana can remain free on $250,000 bail as he awaits trial in a federal insider trading case, a judge said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan also ordered Stephen Buyer to stay in the continental United States while four counts of securities fraud are pending against him.

On Monday, authorities unsealed an indictment against him as they accused the Republican, who served in Congress from 1993 through 2011, of misappropriating secrets he learned as a consultant to make $350,000 illegally.

The 63-year-old Noblesville man was arrested at home in his home state. But he appeared in Manhattan federal court Wednesday to plead not guilty.

Attorney William Schwartz, representing Buyer, told the judge that his client will reliably show up at court hearings.

“The defendant has every reason to be here and assert his innocence and he will be here,” Schwartz said.

Buyer, who served on a committee with oversight over the telecommunications industry when he was in Congress, bought Sprint securities in March 2018, a day after he was at a golf outing in Miami with a T-Mobile executive with whom he had a business and social relationship, the indictment said.

In a civil action against Buyer, the Securities and Exchange Commission asserted that the executive told him about the company’s then-nonpublic plan to acquire Sprint.

Authorities said he also engaged in illegal trading in 2019 ahead of Navigant Consulting Inc.’s acquisition by consulting and advisory firm Guidehouse. Documents said he leveraged his work as a consultant and lobbyist to make illegal profits.

But Schwartz told Berman that there was a “serious dispute” as to whether Buyer received any information about the Sprint deal and whether he received “material information” in the Navigant deal.

The lawyer said his client was a decorated military veteran with a wife, two children and six grandchildren. He said Buyer had chaired the House Committee on Veterans Affairs while in Washington. He also had served on the House Armed Services Committee.

The indictment said that after Buyer left Congress, his consulting work largely focused on areas in which he had gained expertise in Congress, particularly the telecommunications industry and issues involving veterans.

Buyer was arrested Monday as federal authorities in New York announced four separate insider trading cases against Buyer, technology company executives, a man training to be an FBI agent and an investment banker, among others. He was freed in Indiana and traveled to New York for Wednesday’s hearing.

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