At that point, the SEC alleged, someone familiar with the negotiations told DeCinces of the impending transaction. He bought 3,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics on Dec.1, the same day Abbott submitted its preliminary proposal to buy the company's remaining stock.
The civil suit says DeCinces, 61, "knew or was reckless in not knowing" that he was trading on nonpublic information from a source who was not at liberty to share details of the corporate purchase.
DeCinces bought another 5,000 shares the next day and 4,000 more on Dec. 10, the SEC said. On Dec. 15, he purchased 14,000 shares, using $160,000 he had liquidated by selling a portfolio of stocks, some held since 2001. Such transactions, using funds from longtime investments to finance a sudden bet on a company about to be sold, are viewed as red flags by SEC investigators.
DeCinces continued to buy shares as the deal moved to completion, using accounts set up for his grandchildren to make some of the purchases.
Meanwhile, DeCinces' former physical therapist, Joseph Donohue of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., purchased 5,000 shares of Advanced Medical Optics in December and January transactions, the SEC said.
Fred Jackson, a real estate lawyer from Newport Beach, Calif., who knew DeCinces socially, also bought 11,000 shares, four days before the sale announcement. The SEC alleged that he made an initial stock purchase on his mobile handheld device while having breakfast with DeCinces on Jan. 8.
The same day, Roger Wittenbach, described by the SEC as an old DeCinces friend from Lutherville, bought 15,000 shares. The SEC said he also urged his sister to buy 1,000 shares.
The SEC said the three men acted on tips from DeCinces, knowing that the information about the merger was not meant to be public. All three sold their stock after the transaction, earning profits ranging from $75,570 for Donohue to $201,692 for Wittenbach, who runs Wittenbach Business Systems, a banking and security equipment company based in Sparks.
Wittenbach did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.
In Baltimore, DeCinces was best known as the unlucky soul who had to follow Brooks Robinson at third base, though he became an excellent player in his own right. "It's the single thing I'm most proud of," he said in a 2006 interview. "Surviving that and going on to have my own career. … It was an honor to do it honestly."
His game-winning home run in a June 22, 1979, game at Memorial Stadium is often cited as the first blow in the wave of "Oriole Magic" that carried the club through the early 1980s.
Murray was the superstar on those teams.
DeCinces has lived in Southern California and worked as a developer of golf courses and other properties for most of his post-playing career.
"Baseball gave me a great opportunity to be able to walk through a lot of doors," DeCinces told the web site Mlb.com for a 2008 article about his business career. "But it's what you do in your preparation, whether you'll be able to walk through that door a second time. People don't really understand what it takes to be a professional athlete. It takes a lot of dedication and preparation in order to be successful and I took those traits and went to the business world with that same preparation."
Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Korman contributed to this article.