Friday August 11, 2017
Federal prosecutors alleged that in 2012, Roberts, a Ruston dentist, purchased call options in the Shaw Group based on material nonpublic information obtained from his brother-in-law, then a Shaw executive, in advance of Shaw being acquired by Chicago Bridge & Iron. Roberts made $700,000 on the trades, and the government alleged he shared $30,000 of the profit with his brother-in-law in return for the inside information.
During a nine-day trial, the defense argued Roberts's trades were based on his own research, not insider information, and that the tip from his brother-in-law was a speculative rumor. The defense also claimed that in any event, the rumor was "public" at the time of his trades. Shaun Clarke, partner of Houston-based firm Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, L.L.P. acted as lead trial counsel and tried the case with partner Dane Ball and associate Alex Wolf. Clarke delivered the opening statement and closing argument; Ball cross examined numerous government witnesses and presented the defense's trading expert; and Wolf argued various legal motions throughout trial.
The jury unanimously agreed with the defense and returned a verdict of not guilty on one count each of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud - a virtually unprecedented accomplishment for the defense. “Jesse and his family have been through a horrible ordeal,” said lead attorney and former federal prosecutor Clarke. “They feel blessed and thankful that the jury considered all the evidence and reached a just verdict.”