An Illinois federal jury has found a Southern California man guilty in an ongoing insider trading conspiracy case related to Life Time Fitness Inc.’s 2015 private equity buyout.
On April 16, Eric Weller, 54, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to engage in insider trading and acquitted on three counts of securities fraud, according to a media release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. Weller faces a maximum of five years in prison at his July 10 sentencing by U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly.
Weller was one of nine defendants charged in a federal investigation originally launched in September 2017 by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The commission accused multiple conspirators of working through Bret Beshey, a friend of Shane Fleming, Life Time's former vice president of corporate sales, to secure and share illegal trading profits after Fleming learned the fitness company had been purchased and would be taken private in 2015. (Fleming was fired by Life Time in 2016.)
According to trial evidence, Beshey shared Fleming’s non-public tip with three co-conspirators, one of whom shared the tip with Weller and three others. Weller proceeded to purchase Life Time securities prior to the company’s public sale announcement, which prompted stock price to dramatically increase.
During a subsequent three-week period, the conspirators earned more than $860,000 in illegal profits, including $550,000 by Weller alone.
Five of the defendants pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge prior to trial and await sentencing. Three other defendants accepted deferred prosecution agreements after admitting their roles in the conspiracy and are cooperating with the government’s investigation.
Life Time ranked second on Club Industry's Top 100 Health Clubs of 2018 list with an estimated $1.55 billion in 2017 revenue.