A former director at Pinnacle Financial Partners in Nashville, Tenn., has pled guilty to insider trading.

James Cope entered into an agreement with the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee to plead guilty to one count of insider trading; he will serve a two-year probationary sentence, according to court documents. During the first nine months of the sentence, he will be subject to home confinement.

He will also pay a $55,000 fine.

The maximum penalty would have been 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $5 million fine.

Cope is a lawyer "with an impeccable reputation" who "made a mistake in judgment," said Aubrey Harwell Jr., a lawyer at Neal & Harwell and represented the former bank director. "He is accepting responsibility for what has transpired."

The Securities and Exchange Commission is also pursuing a case against Cope. During a Jan. 5 executive committee meeting, Cope learned about the potential acquisition of Avenue Financial Holdings in Nashville, according to court documents. He allegedly used the information to buy roughly 10,000 Avenue shares.

Cope reaped more than $56,000 from buying the shares after Avenue agreed to sell itself to Pinnacle, the SEC claimed in its complaint.

Cope, who lives in Murfreesboro, Tenn., resigned from the Pinnacle's board in April. Pinnacle later disclosed the potential insider trading in a regulatory filing.

The $11 billion-asset Pinnacle completed its acquisition of Avenue on July 1.


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