By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, May 29 (Reuters) - A New Jersey hedge fund manager pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he traded on inside information about the children's clothing company Carter's Inc , according to court papers.
Steven Slawson, the co-founder of Titan Capital Management, is the latest defendant to be charged in a probe centered on the Atlanta-based retailer. He faces 25 counts of securities fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.
Prosecutors accused Slawson of obtaining advance information about Atlanta-based Carter's quarterly results from 2005 to 2010 from a paid consultant who, prosecutors said, had learned the details in turn from former Carter's executives Eric Martin and Richard Posey.
The consultant is cooperating with authorities and was not named in the indictment.
Titan Capital and Slawson's own personal accounts traded in Carter's stock based on the inside tips, prosecutors said, illegally netting profits and avoiding losses.
"He's innocent, and we look forward to proving that at trial," said Slawson's lawyer, Todd Harrison, in a phone interview on Thursday.
Martin and Posey previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the investigation.
Mark Megalli, a former portfolio manager at the now-defunct hedge fund Level Global Investors LP, was also charged with trading on inside information from Martin and Posey and pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy.
Dennis Rosenberg agreed to pay more than $600,000 last year to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he got illegal tips from Carter's executives and passed them on to hedge fund advisers.
The criminal cases stem from a larger probe of insider trading and financial fraud at Carter's.
The SEC previously brought civil charges against the company's former president, Joseph Pacifico; its former executive vice president, Joseph Elles; and Kohl's Corp merchandise manager Michael Johnson, who worked on the Carter's account. All three were accused of participating in a scheme that caused Carter's to overstate its earnings while understating its expenses between 2004 and 2009.
Carter's is cooperating with the SEC as part of a non-prosecution agreement.
The case is U.S. v. Slawson, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, No. 14-cr-186.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)