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Inside Trader Blakstad Gets 36 Months After Facing 151 Months Now Disputes Forfeiture

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon  Podcast
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - ESPN

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 3 – The insider trading trial of Donald Blakstad took place in June 2021 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Inner City Press covered it, noting that  the transcript of cooperator Martha Bustos' guilty plea is still sealed, as as she testified, see below.

On June 28, after less than two hours of deliberation, the jury found Blakstad guilty on all counts. Inner City Press live tweeted it here (and podcast here)

On November 3, Blakstad came back for in-person sentencing, facing 151 to 188 months and Inner City Press was there to cover it, in person. Vlog I; thread here, Vlog 2; podcast:

Here in Judge Ramos' courtroom, Blakstad in plaid shirt with 2 lawyers.

 Judge Ramos: Offense level is 34, guideline sentence is 151 to 188 months.  Blakstad's lawyer is disputing it

 Blakstad's lawyer says the cited victim Mr Bourris is in his early 40s, 22 years until retirement.  Judge Ramos: The guidelines will not be the main driver of the sentence.

AUSA: Mr Blakstad committed perjury

 Judge Ramos: I credited Ms Bustos. The perjury enhancement is appropriate.

AUSA: Blakstad defrauded people. He groomed Ms. Bustos, 20 years his junior. We want 10 years, like Judges Furman and Stein gave.

 Blakstad's lawyer: Here in gallery [in a bright yellow sweatshirt] is a Blakstad supporter, Michael Fuller. Cites football player with big guaranteed contract. Is not asking for home confinement. But "how long?"

 Blakstad's lawyer wants 2 to 3 years of jail time. [During wordy presentation, thinking of other pre-COVID sentencings in this yellow painted courtroom: college basketball coaches, cops who sold gun permits. Now Blakstad.]

 Blakstad has just chosen to NOT speak before sentencing. Judge Ramos: I sentence you to 36 months.

Blakstad's lawyer argued 75% of white collar convicts get less than two years, Judge Ramos notes. Adjourned

  On June 17 in the trial, the trades including of call options in Illumina by Sapphire Bay, Sutton View Equity Partners and even Mid-Continental Petroleum, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada were detailed, as to timing and amount, from the glassed-in witness box. The accented witness explained for the jurors being "out of the money" versus "deep in the money."

    Back on June 16, Bustos was on the witness stand for the second day, now facing cross examination including quotes from her plea allocution before SDNY Chief Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein.  

 Inner City Press, live tweeting the cross examination here and below, went into the docket of Bustos' case, 19-cr-482.

But there things ended on February 28, 2021 with a deleted document; previously there was an order "placing this matter under seal /delayed docketing."  

  Delayed for how long? It is no long a secret that Bustos is a cooperator. The last substantive entry in her docket is the waiver of indictment, now on Patreon here. It has it was subject to delayed docketing, but we have it. So where are the documents after that? We'll have more on this.

Here was some of the thread: now in insider trading trial of US v. Donald Blakstad , government witness Martha Patricia Bustos formerly of Illumina is being cross examined. The question are about the trip to New York that the witness testified about yesterday.  On cross, she's being asked if she was hung-over. 

Q: Were you taken off the email distribution on this?  A: It was late 2018 I was taken off.

[From July 2019: "the unsealing of charges against MARTHA BUSTOS, a CPA formerly employed by Illumina, who pled guilty on June 28, 2019, and is cooperating with the Government.] 

 Q: Did you consider the internal mood to be confidential information? A: Yes.

 Q: You would ask Mr. Blakstad his opinion on whether you should sell you stock? A: Not that I recall specifically. Q: Did you ask Mr. Blakstad if you should quit your job there? A: Don told me, Don't quit, it's a really good company.

Q: You did discuss selling or buying Illumina stock in your chats, right? A: I may have.

Q: You talked about the price of the stock. In texts, like "I sold so much at $160," in 2018? A: I may have.

 Q: And he said he had sold at $200 a share earlier in the year? 

Q: Ms. Bustos, you pled to conspiracy? Bustos: Yes. 

Q: With an overt act in October 2016, receiving inside information? Bustos: I don't recall. Q: In your plea you admitted to being part of a conspiracy, right? Bustos: I don't recall. 

Q: What about CC-1 and CC-2? You did not look at the mention of other persons? Bustos: I know there were other people involved. 

Q: Let me discuss with you the entry of your guilty plea, in open court, before Magistrate Gorenstein. You were asked questions... 

Q: You said you received a trip to New York, right? Bustos: That I received gifts and entertainment. 

Then Inner City Press went to read the transcript Bustos is being asked about -- and in her case, it is still sealed. 

The US Attorney after the verdict chimed in that "following a two-week trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, and approximately one hour of deliberations, DONALD BLAKSTAD, the owner and principal of a California-based investment firm, was found guilty on all counts for committing insider trading and a securities offering fraud scheme.  BLAKSTAD’s offenses yielded more than $7 million in criminal profits. .. BLAKSTAD is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Ramos, who presided over the trial, on October 28, 2021, at 11:00 a.m."

This case is US v. Blakstad, 19-cr-486 (Ramos)


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