Financing

Minor league baseball players indicted for insider trading on the 2022 Del Taco sale

Jordan Qsar, Grant Witherspoon, Chase Lambert and Austin Bernard were accused of trading stocks after learning that the Mexican chain would be sold to Jack in the Box.
Del Taco
Four have been charged with insider trading in connection with the 2022 Del Taco sale. | Photo courtesy of Del Taco.

Four current and former minor league baseball players have been charged with insider trading in connection with the 2022 sale of Del Taco to Jack in the Box.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Jordan Qsar, Grant Witherspoon, Chas Lambert and Austin Bernard with trading on insider information about the deal, which was announced in Dec. 2021.

Qsar had a close friend who worked in the finance department at Jack in the Box. That employee told Qsar in the fall of 2021 that the fast-food burger chain planned to acquire Del Taco.

According to the complaint, Qsar started buying call options on Del Taco stock between mid-October and mid-November 2021.

The complaint describes the four discussing the stock in a series of text exchanges and notes that the Jack in the Box employee participated in a four-hour call about the deal during a drive to Los Angeles in October, with Qsar driving.

Qsar then allegedly shared that information with Witherspoon and the four then bought options in the following weeks. The Jack in the Box employee has not been charged and the complaint says that the employee believed Qsar would keep the information private.

Jack in the Box announced the acquisition in December of that year and Del Taco’s stock price soared 66%, according to the complaint. The four defendants sold their options in the following days and made $189,000 in total profits.

Qsar, Bernard and Lambert all played baseball together at Pepperdine University while Witherspoon played with Qsar on a minor league team affiliated with Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays.

The complaint also describes two others who received information on the stock but have not been identified or charged.

Federal law forbids people from trading stocks based on “insider” information not available to the public. “Insider trading directly affects the integrity of our economy,” FBI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to ensure people who intentionally undermine and threaten our economy will be brought to justice.”

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