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Two golfers face US charges of insider trading

Douglas Parigian (left) and Eric McPhail.

Globe file photos

Douglas Parigian (left) and Eric McPhail.

An insider trading scandal doesn’t do much for your golf game.

Just days after being accused of making thousands of dollars from illegal stock trades, three of the state’s top amateur golfers finished over par in the opening round of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship in Salem Monday, a half-dozen strokes or more behind the leaders.

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Meanwhile, two of their alleged accomplices and golfing buddies — who were not playing in the tournament — now face criminal charges, including one that carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, for allegedly trading on inside information about American Superconductor Corp.

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted Eric J. McPhail of Waltham and Douglas A. Parigian of Lowell on criminal charges of conspiracy and securities fraud. The US Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Parigian, McPhail, and five friends on Friday.

Prosecutors said at least seven men — most of whom are competitive amateur golfers — made about $720,000 between 2009 and 2011 trading on illegally gained tips about upcoming earnings reports and pending business deals for American Superconductor, a Devens-based maker of equipment for wind turbines.

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“Those who engage in insider trading are rigging the system and victimizing the law-abiding citizens who choose to invest in our public companies,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement about the indictments. “We will aggressively police the markets to deter this kind of behavior.”

Tom Kiley, McPhail’s attorney, said he’d defend his client in “due course.”

‘We will aggressively police the markets to deter this kind of behavior.’

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“We’re going to tell it to the court first,” Kiley said.

Parigian’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Federal investigators dubbed several of the men the “Golfing Group.’’ The three members who teed off Monday at the Mass. Amateur had already agreed to settle charges with the SEC: Douglas Clapp, 47, of Walpole, the Massachusetts Golf Association’s reigning player of the year; James A. “Andy” Drohen, 42, of Granville, the 2003 winner of the Massachusetts Amateur Championship; and John J. Gilmartin, 43, of Andover.

Each has agreed to pay back the money they made on the trades as well as penalties ranging from around $12,000 to $23,000. All three settled without admitting or denying guilt.

Gilmartin shot 72, two over par and was tied for 18th in the first day of the golf tourney; Clapp was two strokes behind at 74, tied at 37th; Drohen shot five over par, tying for 52d.

Tied for the lead after one day is Drohen’s brother, Bill, who shot 66, four under par. Bill Drohen is not involved in the trading case.

However, a third brother, John C. Drohen of Cranston, R.I., was accused in the SEC case and has agreed to settle charges, also without admitting or denying guilt. He, too, is an accomplished golfer but is not entered in the tournament.

The seventh member is Jamie A. Meadows, 40, of Springfield, who faces the SEC charges of violating federal antifraud laws.

The Massachusetts Golf Association, which hosts the event, had little to say about the participation of Gilmartin, Clapp, and James Drohen.

“The MGA does not get involved in the personal lives of the competitors,” said association spokeswoman Becky Blaeser. “Our focus is on the golf.”

Prosecutors said the alleged stock-trading ring was led by McPhail, who had bonded over golf and drinks with an American Superconductor executive he met at a country club where both were members. Their friendship became so close that the executive, who has not been named or charged, felt safe confiding sensitive information about his company’s successes and troubles to McPhail, according to court records.

Also known as AMSC, the company makes control systems for wind turbines but has struggled in recent years following the alleged theft of its technology by its onetime largest customer, Chinese wind turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co.

Federal investigators say McPhail passed information from the AMSC executive to his circle of friends, who allegedly made thousands of dollars in the stock market.

A few new details about the alleged scheme emerged following McPhail and Parigian’s indictment, which had been sealed last week.

For example, court documents contend Parigian appears to have made among the most money — netting $267,881 and avoiding losses of about $10,800 in one instance alone — from the tips McPhail passed along. And Parigian and others were allegedly generous to McPhail with their thanks.

Prosecutors included excerpts of e-mail exchanges among the friends in the indictment. After one e-mail, in which McPhail hinted that he’d love to be paid back with steaks and pinot noir, Parigian responded: “I will take you for a nice dinner at Grill 23,” where the dry-aged New York 14-ounce steak runs $52.

Another friend promised McPhail a day on a Concord golf course with “no need to bring your checkbook.”

McPhail and Parigian were arrested and released on $25,000 personal recognizance bonds Friday, said Brandy Donini-Melanson, spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at erin.ailworth@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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