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Prosecutors seek $1.4M in restitution from former congressman from Noblesville

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former Indiana congressman should pay nearly $1.4 million to cover the legal bills of companies forced to incur expenses when he was prosecuted on insider trading charges. But his lawyer said Thursday it’s an exorbitant amount to demand from a man already suffering financially.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman postponed Steve Buyer’s sentencing until July 31. He asked the Probation Department to analyze the $349,846 that prosecutors say Buyer should forfeit as crime proceeds and another $1.39 million he would owe for the legal costs of two companies. Sentencing had been set for next week.

Buyer, 64, a Republican from Noblesville, Indiana, was convicted in March of making illegal stock trades while working as a consultant and lobbyist after a congressional career that stretched from 1993 to 2011.

The lawyer and Persian Gulf War veteran once chaired the House Veterans’ Affairs committee and was a House prosecutor at ex-President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.

He was convicted in connection with insider trading involving the $26.5 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, announced in April 2018, and stock purchases he made at a later time in the management consulting company Navigant when his client Guidehouse was set to acquire it in a deal publicly disclosed weeks later.

Buyer’s lawyers say he should face only home confinement and community service while prosecutors have urged a three-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors said in a letter to the judge on Thursday that Guidehouse is seeking $395,000 in legal fees while T-Mobile wants $996,800 to cover its legal costs. They said all of the fees were incurred in connection with the government’s criminal investigation and prosecution.

In a letter also filed Thursday, Buyer attorney Henry Asbill said the requests for forfeiture and legal fees were made too late and were unwarranted. He called the requested legal fees “exorbitant numbers” and said the forfeiture amount was inflated because it was based on insufficient evidence and didn’t account for money already forfeited by others.

A presentence submission from the defense last month maintained that Buyer, who once made as much as $2.2 million in a year, has suffered so much from the cost of litigation that he and his wife have sold most of their assets, including their home, condo and two cars, and his wife will have to return to the workforce at age 65.

During the trial, prosecutors said Buyer’s clients were motivated to share lucrative secrets with him because they wanted his help as a consultant.

Defense lawyers contended that he was a stock market buff who did research that led to legal profitable trades. Buyer testified on his own behalf.