JonesTrading Fires General Counsel Arrested for Sex With a Minor

(Bloomberg) -- JonesTrading Institutional Services LLC, an equities and derivatives broker-dealer used by institutional money managers and hedge funds, fired its general counsel after he was arrested on charges that he engaged in sex acts with a minor.

Jason Lavender, 44, was arrested on Aug. 23, according to the Sheriff’s Office in Ventura County, California. He has pleaded not guilty to six felony counts, including two counts of lewd act upon a child and four counts related to sex acts with a person under 16, according to court records, and was released after posting $240,000 bail.

Lavender was terminated on Aug. 24 from the Westlake Village, California-based company. In a memo sent to JonesTrading’s employees the same day, Chief Operating Officer Steve Chmielewski said that Lavender was no longer working at JonesTrading, according to a copy of the memo seen by Bloomberg.

“Mr. Lavender, who had worked at JonesTrading for less than 5 months, was terminated immediately once we became aware of the appalling charges that were filed against him,” Chief Executive Officer Alan Hill said in a statement. “These charges were unrelated to JonesTrading’s workplace. Given the sensitivity of this matter and out of respect for anyone affected by his alleged actions, we are unable to comment further.”

Lavender faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison if convicted, said Patrice Koenig, a prosecutor with the Ventura County District Attorney’s office. However, he’s unlikely to receive the maximum sentence because he doesn’t have a criminal record, Koenig said.

The alleged acts took place over a two-month period, from June 18 through Aug. 20, Koenig said, declining to provide further details. Lavender is due back in court Sept. 18 for a so-called early deposition conference where prosecutors and his lawyers will discuss the possibility of a guilty plea, Koenig said.

Ron Bamieh, Lavender’s lawyer, declined to comment on the claims.

“We’re reviewing the discovery that’s been provided to us by the district attorney,” Bamieh said.

Before joining JonesTrading, Lavender was senior corporate counsel for Charles Schwab Corp.’s broker-dealer subsidiary. He has a degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

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