The SEC charged a Tennessee lawyer with insider trading, alleging he used his position on the executive committee of the board of directors at Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners to trade on nonpublic information he learned about an impending merger.

The SEC alleged that James C. Cope wrongfully obtained more than $56,000 by purchasing securities in Pinnacle’s acquisition target, Avenue Financial Holdings, prior to the banks’ joint public announcement of the merger.  The SEC’s complaint states that Cope learned confidential details about the planned merger during a board executive committee meeting and placed his first order to purchase Avenue Financial stock while that meeting was still taking place, and proceeded to place four more orders within an hour of the meeting’s end.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee filed a parallel criminal case against Cope as well.

The SEC’s press release can be found at the following link:

Jeff Petersen is an attorney licensed to practice in California and Illinois who represents clients in a wide variety of SEC investigations and SEC enforcement proceedings. He can be reached in California at 858.792.3666 and in Illinois at 312.583.7488.