Did the butler do it? He won't say, though he'll pay $66,200 to put the case to rest, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Graham Lefford, the former butler to ``American Idol'' creator Robert Sillerman, agreed to settle SEC claims he made illegal stock trades after learning his boss would buy a stake in Elvis Presley's estate, the agency said in a filing at U.S. District Court in Manhattan today. Lefford didn't admit or deny wrongdoing under the deal, which requires a judge's approval.
Lefford is the only butler to be targeted by the SEC amid an increase in insider-trading lawsuits targeting Wall Street bankers, lawyers and company executives in the past year.
``Our pursuit of this case shows there is no such thing as flying below the radar,'' said George Stepaniuk, an SEC enforcement attorney overseeing the lawsuit. ``We feel Mr. Lefford clearly violated the law.''
The SEC accused Lefford in September of buying $600 in stock just 12 minutes after faxing Sillerman's signed contract in 2004. Shares in the company, now called CKX Inc., surged more than 9,000 percent after the $100 million deal for rights to Presley's music and Graceland mansion was made public, the SEC said.
The deal requires Lefford to forfeit $34,731 in profits and interest and pay a $31,450 fine.
CKX produces the ``American Idol'' hit television show. Last year, it bought the rights to boxer Muhammad Ali's name and image for $50 million. The New York-based company last month agreed to a $1.3 billion buyout led by Sillerman and ``Idol'' creator Simon Fuller, who plan to develop chains of Elvis Presley casino resorts and hotels based on boxing champion Ali.
Lefford quit as Sillerman's butler before the SEC filed its lawsuit last year. His lawyers didn't immediately return phone calls today seeking comment on the settlement.
The lawsuit is SEC v. Graham J. Lefford, 06-CV-7716, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.