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Benihana Founder Charged

June 10, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The founder of Benihana Inc. was charged Tuesday with making more than $590,000 through insider trading.

An indictment charged Rocky Aoki, 59, with one count of conspiracy and six counts of insider trading, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A lawyer for Aoki, 59, said his client would plead innocent.

Aoki, a former Olympic wrestler, resigned last month as chairman and chief executive officer of the 61-restaurant Benihana chain after learning he was the subject of the federal investigation.

Prosecutors said a public relations consultant told Aoki in September 1993 that then-Apple Computer Inc. Chairman John Sculley was negotiating to join a company called Spectrum.

Aoki then bought 200,000 shares of Spectrum’s stock, which rose about 46 percent after Sculley announced a month later he would head the company, the indictment said.

Prosecutors said Aoki later paid $10,000 to the consultant, Donald Kessler, who pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme.

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