Philadelphia -- Harold F. (Gerry) Lenfest, president and
CEO of Lenfest Communications Corp., said last week that he and his wife, Marguerite, were
exonerated of all civil charges that they had violated federal insider-trading laws.
Lenfest said a three-day trial here before U.S. District
Court Judge J. Curtis Joyner ended last Wednesday, with Joyner dismissing all charges
filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
In December 1995, the SEC filed a civil complaint in
federal court, alleging that the Lenfests engaged in insider trading before the October
1993 announcement of the proposed merger among Tele-Communications Inc., Liberty Media
Corp. and Bell Atlantic Corp.
The SEC claimed that Gerry Lenfest -- who, at the time, was
an outside director at Liberty -- had advance information about the announcement, which
drove up the value of TCI's and other cable stocks. The agency asserted that Lenfest
advised his son, H. Chase Lenfest, to buy TCI stock before the merger was publicly
The SEC also alleged that Lenfest told Marguerite about the
merger plans, and that she asked their son to buy TCI stock for her, too.
Even though the merger fell through, TCI's share price
rose sharply, providing Chase and Marguerite Lenfest with about $120,000 in paper profits,
the SEC said.
"I am very pleased that the court agreed with my
belief that my family and I did nothing wrong," Gerry Lenfest said last week, in a
prepared statement. "I hold business ethics in high regard, and I hope that this
decision settles this matter once and for all."