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Steakhouse Chain Owner Accused

June 10, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ The founder of the Japanese steakhouse chain Benihana Inc. has been accused of making more than $590,000 in an insider trading scheme.

Rocky Aoki, 59, was charged in a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday with one count of conspiracy and six counts of insider trading.

Aoki allegedly paid $10,000 for information in 1993 that then-Apple Computer Inc. Chairman John Sculley was negotiating to join a company called Spectrum. Aoki made $590,00 on Spectrum stock, the indictment says, because of his advance knowledge.

Aoki did not immediately return a message left with a person answering his home phone in Manhattan. One of his lawyers, Martin Auerbach, said Aoki would plead innocent.

A former Olympic wrestler, Aoki was part of a crew in 1981 that became the first to fly a balloon across the Pacific.

Currently, he is working with Drexel Aqua Technologies to salvage the Sindia, a ship that sank off Ocean City, N.J., in 1901.

Last month, Aoki resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of the Miami-based, 61-restaurant chain after learning he was the subject of the federal investigation.

If convicted, Aoki could face five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each count.

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