Orange County Business Journal

Mazzo Denies Charges of Insider Trading Over AMO-Abbott Deal

Vita Reed Originally published August 17, 2012 at 1:59 p.m., updated August 17, 2012 at 2:31 p.m.

Longtime Orange County medical device executive James V. Mazzo, who is retiring as president of Abbott Medical Optics Inc. at the end of the year, has been charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency said today.

"Mr. Mazzo flatly and unequivocally denies the SEC's allegations," said Richard Marmaro, a partner with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP. "Mr. Mazzo has a spotless reputation for professionalism, integrity and service to his community, built up over a career of 30 years. The notion that he would put all that at risk to give a single friend inside information is absurd."

The SEC alleged that Mazzo was the source of illegal tips regarding the $2.8 billion sale of Santa Ana eye device maker Advanced Medical to Abbott Laboratories of suburban Chicago in 2009.

The SEC also charged that Hall of Fame baseball player Eddie Murray and David L. Parker traded on inside information given to them by former California Angels player and local real estate developer Doug DeCinces.

Parker is managing partner of Irvine-based SRS Capital Partners and has been active in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

The complaint against Mazzo, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, said he was a neighbor and friend of DeCinces.

The agency alleges that Mazzo’s tips on the deal resulted in $2.4 million of unlawful profits derived from the sale.

DeCinces agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine to settle the SEC’s charges last year.

Murray, a teammate of DeCinces with the Baltimore Orioles, agreed to settle the charges against him by paying $358,151, the SEC said.

The agency said it’s continuing its case against Mazzo and Parker.

Mazzo said in May that he was retiring as the leader of Abbott Medical, which makes eye surgery and contact lens products, at the end of the year. He led the company though a 2002 spin-off from Irvine-based Allergan Inc. and its sale to Abbott.