Joe Louis, the billionaire founder of Tottenham Hotspur, pleaded guilty to securities fraud in court on Wednesday.
The 86-year-old British businessman was indicted in the United States last July on charges of “orchestrating a brazen insider trading scheme.”
This included, according to US officials, passing information to “romantic partners and private pilots.”
Lewis' attorney at the time of the indictment had claimed that the government had made a “serious error in judgment” in charging him and promised to “defend him vigorously in court.”
Lewis pleaded not guilty to all 16 charges on July 25, and his bail was set at $300 million, secured by his luxury yacht and 98-meter plane.
However, Lewis – who founded ENIC Sports Inc, the company that owns the vast majority of Spurs shares – appeared in court in Manhattan on Wednesday to plead guilty to two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
“I am deeply embarrassed and apologize to the court for my behavior,” Lewis told U.S. District Judge Jessica Clark, via Reuters.
The pilots did not submit to today's requests, and their criminal cases are still pending.
Sentencing is scheduled for March, with a specific guideline range of 18 to 24 months. The judge will determine the final sentence, taking into account the general scope of the charges.
Lewis' bail conditions remain in place, and he retains the right to appeal any prison sentence.
Mark Hare, who represents Lewis, said: “Today, Joe Louis admitted his conduct in relation to a number of stock trades by individuals close to him.
“Mr. Lewis did not engage in improper trading in his own accounts. His conduct should be viewed in the context of Mr. Lewis' long life of achievement and integrity.”
“Mr. Lewis will soon be 87 years old, and he is very sorry and embarrassed and apologizes to the court, his family and everyone who relied on him.”
The allegations against Lewis were made in a 29-page indictment and included one woman, referred to as “the girlfriend”, who allegedly made $849,000 (now £665,000) after being tipped off by Lewis about stock purchases during their stay. At the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, in 2019.
Her name is Carolyn W. Carter, 33 years old, “a US citizen residing in the US Virgin Islands.” “Carter and Lewis were in a romantic relationship from approximately 2013 to 2020,” the court document states.
Lewis' two personal pilots – Patrick J. O'Connor, 66, and Brian L. Wu, 64 – were also charged with seven counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy.
O'Connor and Waugh did not submit to requests Wednesday and were not asked to appear. Their criminal cases are still pending.
The case was later delayed after it emerged that Lewis's company, Tavistock Financial LLC, had paid the legal fees for both.
Tottenham declined to comment on the case due to Lewis “no longer being a person with significant control” over the club on October 5, 2022.
“The owner of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is ENIC, with majority control by a family discretionary trust from which Mr Joseph Lewis does not benefit,” a club spokesman said in July. The trust is managed by two independent professional trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries.
He added: “This is an American legal issue that has nothing to do with the club, and therefore I have no comment on it.”
He explained: Joe Louis's guilty plea and what it means for Tottenham
(Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
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