By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A former corporate communications chief for a New Jersey biotechnology company admitted on Wednesday to illegal trading based on tips about a new breast cancer drug from the company's chief financial officer, who was her boyfriend at the time.
Lauren Wood, 33, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to securities fraud before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark, New Jersey.
Wood and Usama Malik, the former CFO of Immunomedics Inc, now owned by Gilead Sciences Inc, were charged over the alleged scheme last December.
Prosecutors said Malik told Wood before an April 6, 2020, public announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would let Immunomedics halt its trial for the breast cancer treatment Trodelvy because the drug had proven effective.
Wood, who was living with Malik, though she had left the company, then bought 7,000 Immunomedics shares, although the stock was being downgraded by analysts around that time, and sold them three months later for a $213,618 profit, prosecutors said.
She faces up to 20 years in prison at her scheduled Nov. 21 sentencing, but will likely get much less. U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger in New Jersey announced the plea.
Lawyers for Wood did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Malik declined to comment.
Malik pleaded not guilty on May 19 to insider trading, securities fraud and conspiracy charges. He is free on bail.
Gilead bought Immunomedics for $20.6 billion in October 2020.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)