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A British billionaire who owns a Boston restaurant group and waterfront commercial property pleaded guilty to insider trading after prosecutors charged him with sharing stock tips with his employees and acquaintances.

Joseph Lewis, owner of the Tavistock Group business empire, submitted the guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

In July, Lewis was indicted by a federal grand jury on 19 counts of securities fraud, conspiracy and making false statements.

Lewis’ tips enabled the group to reap millions in gains after they invested in shares of Charlestown-based Solid Biosciences and Tango Therapeutics, which is headquartered at 201 Brookline Ave., the indictment stated.

In a court hearing Wednesday, the 86-year-old Lewis entered a plea deal in which he agreed to pay more than $50 million in penalties.

“I knew at the time what I was doing was wrong, and I am so embarrassed and I apologize to the court for my conduct,” Lewis told the court, according to an Associated Press report.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 28.

The recipients of the stock tips included two pilots of Lewis’ private aircraft, each of whom received $500,000 loans from Lewis to buy stocks, prosecutors alleged.

Lewis invested in the companies through a biotech hedge fund that he owns, prosecutors said. That gave him access to non-public information about a planned clinical trial by Solid Bioscience, despite having signed a confidentiality agreement. Lewis’ associates sold their investments for millions in profits, the indictment said.

In July 2020, Lewis’ hedge fund created a special purpose acquisition company to negotiate a merger with Tango Therapeutics. Lewis encouraged two private pilots and a pair of personal assistants to buy the company’s stock before the deal closed in 2021.

Former owner of the Tottenham Hotspur soccer club in the British Premier League, Lewis’ local real estate holdings include the 104 Atlantic Ave. property in downtown Boston, occupied by the Joe’s Waterfront restaurant.

Tavistock Restaurant Group owns the Abe & Louie’s, Atlantic Fish Co., Joe’s on Newbury and Joe’s Waterfront restaurants in Boston and the Coach Grill in Wayland.

In 2022, Tavistock Development received approval from the Boston Planning & Development Agency to redevelop the Crate & Barrel property at 761-793 Boylston St. as a mix of housing and offices, but the project has yet to break ground.

Tavistock Group Founder Admits Insider Trading

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min