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Man Gets 2 Years Prison For Disney Insider Trading Plot

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NEW YORK (By Bernd Debusmann Jr) - A man who admitted to scheming with his girlfriend to try to sell inside information about Walt Disney Co to hedge funds was sentenced on Friday to 27 months in prison.

Yonni Sebbag was sentenced in New York after pleading guilty last August to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Sebbag, a 30-year-old Moroccan citizen, also faces deportation after his release from prison.

His girlfriend, Bonnie Hoxie, admitted to the same two charges in September.

Prosecutors said the pair had tried to sell information to more than 30 hedge funds about Disney's upcoming earnings and possible mergers, which Hoxie learned about as an assistant to the company's corporate communications chief. They were arrested after several funds reported their activities to authorities.

Among the leaks were details of possible advanced talks over a sale of Disney's ABC television network, prosecutors said. Disney has called references to such talks "false."

More than a dozen family members and friends from Morocco and France were in attendance at his sentencing.

Sebbag's lawyer had sought a sentence of no more than a year in prison, saying Sebbag's was desperate after the cafe he ran in Hollywood began losing money and he had become addicted to gambling.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Hoxie and Sebbag last May. The SEC said Hoxie had told Sebbag she coveted expensive shoes and a $700 Stella McCartney handbag.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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