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Former U.S. congressman pleads not guilty to insider trading charges

FILE PHOTO: The Manhattan Federal Courthouse is seen in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. congressman Stephen Buyer pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday to insider trading charges over purchases of Sprint shares before the telecommunications company merged with T-Mobile US Inc in 2018.

Prosecutors have accused Buyer, a 63-year-old who represented Indiana as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1993 and 2011, of making $349,000 in profit from the Sprint trades and another insider scheme in 2019. Buyer had been a T-Mobile consultant at the time of its merger with Sprint.

William Schwartz, a lawyer for Buyer, told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman at a hearing that Buyer did not receive material inside information before his trades.

"We think that the case is weak, frankly," Schwartz said.

Berman set bail at $250,000 and ordered Buyer not to leave the continental United States. Another court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 31.

Buyer was one of seven people arrested this week on insider trading charges, as part of a crackdown on financial crime by Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

A former Goldman Sachs banker, a former FBI trainee and a technology executive were among those arrested. The seven defendants also face parallel civil charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)