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by Mike Caswell
Annetta Budhu, a New York resident charged alongside two Canadians for the Arias Intel Corp. pump-and-dump, has pleaded guilty. The government claimed that Ms. Budhu was party to encrypted text messages and phone calls in which she and others planned to boost the stock as high as $5. (All figures are in U.S. dollars.) They proposed issuing a series of news releases that would go "hand-in-hand" with a paid promotional campaign.
Ms. Budhu, 56, entered the guilty plea in an appearance on Saturday, June 18, before Magistrate Judge Linda Lopez in San Diego. The charge to which Ms. Budhu pleaded guilty is one count of providing false information. It carries a maximum jail term of five years, but prosecutors will recommend that Ms. Budhu serve six months of home confinement.
The plea is hardly good news for the final defendant in the case, a Toronto resident named Andrew Hackett. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. As part of her plea agreement, Ms. Budhu has admitted that she exchanged a series of encrypted text messages with Mr. Hackett during the scheme. Her plea agreement does not contain details of those messages, but in a related civil action the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that the messages contained details of an effort to boost Arias Intel with planned trading and a promotional campaign that was to send the stock as high as $5.
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