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By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - The former top corporate lawyer at Apple Inc pleaded guilty on Thursday to insider trading charges, for what prosecutors called a five-year scheme to trade ahead of the iPhone maker's quarterly earnings announcements.
Gene Levoff, 48, of San Carlos, California, pleaded guilty to six securities fraud charges at a hearing before U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark, New Jersey.
Levoff allegedly exploited his roles as corporate secretary, head of corporate law and co-chair of a committee that reviewed drafts of Apple's results to generate $604,000 of illegal gains on more than $14 million of trades from 2011 to 2016.
Prosecutors said Levoff ignored the quarterly "blackout periods" that barred trading before Apple's results were released, as well as the company's broader insider trading policy -- which he was responsible for enforcing.
"Gene Levoff betrayed the trust of one of the world's largest tech companies for his own financial gain," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna in New Jersey said in a statement.
A lawyer for Levoff did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison term and $5 million fine, though Levoff's punishment would likely be much less. Levoff's sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 10.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fired Levoff in September 2018, five months before he was criminally charged. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed related civil charges.
Authorities have said servers were located in New Jersey for firms that handled Levoff's trades, explaining why the criminal case was filed in that state.
The case is U.S. v. Levoff, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 19-cr-00780.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)