Insider trading case of SAC's Steinberg reaches jury

Michael Steinberg arrives at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, November 19, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The fate of SAC Capital Advisors portfolio manager Michael Steinberg was in the hands of a jury on Tuesday, after more than four weeks of trial on charges he traded on inside information.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan spent Tuesday morning instructing the jurors before sending them to start their deliberations.

"We have reached the point where you are about to undertake your final function as jurors," Sullivan told the nine women and three men on the jury.

Steinberg is charged with five counts of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud for trades in Dell Inc that prosecutors said were based on insider information.

In total, prosecutors say SAC Capital made more than $1.4 million on the Dell and Nvidia trades. Steinberg, 41, denies wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said the trades, which Steinberg placed in 2008 and 2009, were based on tips received by Jon Horvath, a former SAC analyst working under him in SAC's Sigma Capital Management division.

Prosecutors say Horvath, who became a key witness in the case, was a member of a "corrupt circle" of Wall Street analysts who shared with each other inside information that they then fed to their bosses for trading.

Steinberg's lawyer, Barry Berke, sought throughout the trial to call Horvath's credibility into question, saying on Monday that he chose to "point the finger" at Steinberg only on the eve of his own trial and in a bid to avoid prison.

Steinberg's trial follows a guilty plea on November 8 by SAC Capital to fraud charges after a long-running government probe into insider trading at the hedge fund, which was founded by Steven A. Cohen. SAC also agreed to pay $1.2 billion as part of the plea deal.

The case is U.S. v. Steinberg, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cr-00121.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; editing by Andrew Hay)