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Ex-NYSE Clerk Pleads Guilty in Tips Probe

Frank Furino was chaged with facilitating a front-running scheme.

A former

New York Stock Exchange

floor clerk pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to charges he provided illegal stock tips to a former daytrader.

Frank Furino was indicted by a federal grand jury in March on securities fraud charges for facilitating an illegal "front-running" scheme that generated more than $300,000 in illegal profits for a trader at

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Andover Brokerage

, a former daytrading firm that used to be based in Great Neck, N.Y.

Furino, a former clerk with brokerage Lawrence Helfant, provided the daytrader with confidential information about large orders to purchase and sell securities. The trader used the information to front run, or trade ahead of, Helfant's customers, knowing that the impending block trades would have an impact on the price of the shares he purchased.

Helfant was acquired by

Jefferies

(JEF) - Get Report

in 2001. Prosecutors in New York say the illegal trading activity took place from August 2000 to December 2001.

People familiar with the investigation say the daytrader, who has never been identified by prosecutors, is John "Jay" Amore, the former

AB Watley

chief executive officer, who is a central figure in the so-called "squawk box" investigation.

Amore is cooperating with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn in conjunction with the squawk box inquiry. Last month, prosecutors indicted four former brokers, charging they permitted daytraders at Watley and

Millennium Brokerage

to listen in to the internal squawk box systems of

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

,

Lehman Brothers

(LEH)

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

.

Prosecutors in New York contend the daytraders used the squawk boxes to gather information about upcoming block trades to engage in front-running. In return for the access, the daytraders allegedly paid bribes in the form of cash or trading commissions.

Amore, indicted last year on an unrelated securities offense, has not been charged by prosecutors in either front-running probe. The

Securities and Exchange Commission

, however, has filed civil fraud charges against Amore in a related civil suit stemming from the squawk box investigation.

Amore's lawyer, Nelson Boxer, could not be reached for comment. Furino's lawyer, Douglas Burns, also was not available for comment.