The Del Taco Trio: Qsar, Witherspoon, and Bernard Face Securities Fraud Charges

The three baseball players, Austin Bernard, Jordan Qsar, and Grant Witherspoon, have found themselves in hot water after being charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. These former teammates turned friends are facing serious consequences for their alleged involvement in an illegal trading scheme that netted them nearly $200,000 in profits. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an investigation into their activities, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California is pursuing charges that could result in up to 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines for each player.

The story begins with outfielder Jordan Qsar, who, during a break from baseball in October 2021, met up with a friend from Pepperdine University who worked in finance at Jack in the Box. The friend was working on the financial analysis for Jack in the Box’s acquisition of Del Taco and shared details of the deal with Qsar. Qsar saw an opportunity to profit from the impending deal and purchased call options for Del Taco stock. He then tipped off his friends Bernard, Witherspoon, and teammate Chase Lambert, who also attended Pepperdine with Qsar and Bernard.

The group began exchanging texts about buying Del Taco securities, with Witherspoon expressing his bullish outlook on the stock and the potential for high profits. Qsar, Witherspoon, and their teammate all purchased call options for Del Taco stock while at baseball training camp in Florida. Over the following weeks, they continued to buy more options as they awaited news of the acquisition.

When Jack in the Box announced its plan to acquire Del Taco in December 2021, the stock price surged by 66%. Qsar, Witherspoon, Bernard, and Lambert all sold their options and collectively made $189,000 in profits. However, their scheme was soon uncovered, and their names were reported to the authorities by the Jack in the Box executive, leading to the SEC investigation and subsequent charges.

The SEC alleges that the players engaged in insider trading by using non-public information to make profitable trades, violating securities laws and undermining the fairness of the market. U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath emphasized the importance of upholding the integrity of the financial system and warned that those who attempt to exploit it for personal gain will face consequences.

The downfall of these promising baseball players serves as a cautionary tale of the risks and consequences of engaging in illegal trading practices. As they face the prospect of lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines, their once-promising careers have been tarnished by greed and deception. The case highlights the importance of ethical conduct and compliance with securities laws to ensure a level playing field for all participants in the financial markets.

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Sources:
– SEC Complaint: https://www.sec.gov/files/litigation/complaints/2024/comp25956.pdf
– Fortune: https://fortune.com/company/box/

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