FORTUNE -- Last fall, David Miller thought he'd found a sure-fire way to dig himself out of debt.
The Rochdale Securities trader had watched Apple (AAPL) shares fall in the space of a month from above $700 to below $600. Earnings were due out Oct. 25, and Miller expected what analysts call a positive surprise.
He took a client's order for 1,625 shares of Apple, moved the decimal point three places, and bought 1.6 million shares -- a billion dollars worth -- using his employer's capital for collateral.
Unfortunately for Miller, and for Rochdale, Apple's surprise was the other kind. Earnings missed for the second quarter in a row and gross margin guidance disappointed Wall Street. Apple went down, not up.
On paper, Miller had just lost $30 million of someone else's money.
By the time the dust settled, Rochdale Securities had gone out of business, 40 people had lost their jobs and Miller was in federal court in Hartford, CT, pleading guilty to wire fraud charges that carried a possible sentence of 30 years in prison.
He got 30 months.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, according to the Hartford Courant's Edmund Mahoney, Miller gave a long and teary apology. "I don't deserve to be forgiven."
Ex-Rochdale trader charged with wire fraud after a $1 billion Apple deal goes bad
FORTUNE -- It must have seemed like a sure thing.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed Tuesday, David Miller thought he'd make a quick killing in Apple (AAPL) on Thursday, Oct. 25 -- the day the company reported its fourth quarter earnings -- by pretending to misplace a decimal point on a client's order.
The client had asked MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 5, 2012 8:26 AM ET
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