Former Merck financial analyst pleads guilty to insider trading charges

A former Merck & Co. senior finance analyst has pleaded guilty in New York to insider trading charges.

Zachary Zwerko pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to commit securities fraud and three securities fraud counts. A plea agreement recommended a three to four-year prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Masella said the 32-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts, resident passed along secrets that earned $722,000 in illegal profits.

Zwerko’s lawyer, Gary Pelletier, said he’ll seek leniency for his client at a May 15 sentencing.

A criminal complaint says Zwerko fed secrets about plans for acquisitions by the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck to a former schoolmate at Rutgers Business School. Prosecutors say Zwerko accepted at least $50,000 in cash while the friend earned profits trading illegally.

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