NEW YORK (AP) _ He lives in a one-story cream-colored bungalow in a middle-class development of identical homes in Florida. He drives a 1993 gold-tinted Saturn compact. Many neighbors say they don't even know him.

Charles Brumfield, alleged ringleader of a far-flung, $2.6 million insider trading scheme unveiled this past week, apparently has flaunted few signs of ostentatiousness.

A look at his lifestyle and methods of evading detection, based on research and interviews with neighbors and federal investigators, suggests how Brumfield, who turns 52 on Sunday, covered the tracks for four years, orchestrating what authorities describe as one of the biggest securities fraud rings since the 1980s takeover boom.

The case against Brumfield and 16 other people, unveiled by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, is startling in magnitude.

A middle manager in AT&T Corp.'s Labor Relations department in Morristown, N.J., Brumfield was said to have passed secret information about four pending AT&T takeover targets to a web of family and friends in five Eastern states, who in turn traded stocks profitably on the tips.

The scheme as described by federal investigators yielded Brumfield and Thomas Alger, his subordinate at AT&T, more than $300,000 in kickbacks. Both have pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other criminal charges.

Yet evidence of the sort of lavish spending typical of some of Wall Street's biggest accused white-collar culprits failed to emerge during research and interviews.

According to the SEC's complaint, Brumfield illegally passed along confidential information about AT&T's plans to acquire Paradyne Corp., NCR Corp., Digitial Microwave Corp. and Teradata Corp _ from December 1988 through November 1991. AT&T itself isn't accused of any wrongdoing.

During that time, Brumfield and his wife Lorrie owned a two-bedroom condominium in a modest townhouse complex in Basking Ridge, N.J., which they bought for $172,000 in 1985, New Jersey property records show.

In May 1993, Brumfield resigned. Three months later, he sold the condominium for $200,000.

Irving Arntz, who bought Brumfield's condo through a property broker, told The Associated Press that he never met Brumfield. When he was shown the three-floor residence, he said it appeared ``just the same as anybody else _ nothing fancy.''

Neighbors said it was an easy place to be anonymous.

``Nobody really knows each other around here. Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves,'' said John Cunnert, a neighbor who has lived at the complex for four years but says he also never met Brumfield.

In May 1994, Brumfield put down $75,000 and borrowed the rest to buy a $175,000, one-story house with a two-car garage and tiny front lawn, at 377 Kelsey Park Circle in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The home is in a classic, nondescript Florida cookie-cutter development of nearly identical cream-colored houses with red-tiled roofs, nicely tended flower beds and palms. His car is another non-standout, a simple gold-colored 1993 Saturn SL2 four-door sedan.

Poking from Brumfield's small front lawn is a two-foot high pink flamingo sculpted from garden tools. A small, screened-in swimming pool occupies most of the backyard. A basketball hoop and a large gas grill were nearby.

Several neighbors in the development said they did not know Brumfield, a tan and fit-looking man with a shock of reddish brown hair and glasses, given to wearing golf shirts, shorts and tennis shoes _ everyday Florida garb.

Asked about the fraud scheme on Saturday, Brumfield was polite but terse. ``Please talk to my lawyer,'' he told an AP reporter who visited his house. The lawyer, Justin Walder of Roseland, N.J., declined to comment.

Federal authorities refused to speak about Brumfield's lifestyle. But the SEC complaint alleges that Brumfield and Alger went out of their way to keep company and government officials from discovering the scheme.

One method Brumfield allegedly used to obscure the money trail from federal authorities and AT&T was to receive part of the kickbacks in cash, which avoided bank paperwork and other possible clues. The rest was in checks; federal officials would not say the amount in cash or how money was delivered.

In addition, the SEC alleges Brumfield and Alger hid their ties to the inside trades by conducting them through accounts in the names of others implicated in the scheme.

Brumfield also allegedly conspired with other defendants to give false testimony to the SEC and create phony documents to obscure the nature and extent of the trades.

Experts said the scheme's duration suggests the difficulty authorities had nailing it down.

``If this is going on for four years, it strikes me as taking a long time to pick up on it,'' said Alan Bromberg, a Southern Methodist University law professor who is an authority on securities fraud.

___

AP Writer Will Lester in Miami contributed to this report.