Former Goldman, Blackstone analyst pleads guilty to insider trading

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former Goldman Sachs and Blackstone analyst admitted to an insider trading charge on Thursday, after prosecutors accused him of passing tips to two friends about planned corporate mergers and partnerships.

Anthony Viggiano, 27, of Baldwin, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud before U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan.

Viggiano was accused of passing tips on at least eight transactions between 2021 and 2023 to his college friend Stephen Forlano and to construction sales representative Christopher Salamone, who had grown up on the same block.

Forlano, 27, of Tampa, Florida, also pleaded guilty on Thursday to a securities fraud charge.

Authorities said he traded on tips from Viggiano, and passed some to his college friend Nathan Bleckley, a U.S. Army captain.

Prosecutors said the scheme generated more than $400,000 of illegal profits.

The transactions included American International Group’s sale of part of a business to Blackstone, and private equity firm Advent International’s purchase of satellite operator Maxar Technologies. Goldman advised Advent.

Both defendants face a maximum 20 years in prison, but will likely receive far lesser punishments.

Viggiano could serve 24 to 30 months in prison, and Forlano could serve 12 to 18 months, under recommended federal guidelines.

Bleckley was not criminally charged.

Steven Brill, a lawyer for Viggiano, said his client was “deeply ashamed, and he understands the nature of his actions and takes complete responsibility for them.”

Forlano’s lawyer Michael Bachner said: “Mr. Forlano has accepted responsibility for his misconduct and has true remorse for what did.”

Viggiano had faced nine securities fraud and conspiracy charges, while Forlano faced four.

Salamone pleaded guilty. All four men faced related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil charges. Salamone and Bleckley settled that case in October.

According to the SEC, Viggiano and Salamone tried to create a “smokescreen” when they bought Maxar securities by investing in four other defense companies, so they could say they were investing “in anticipation of a possible World War III.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)