Former Microsoft senior manager Brian Jorgenson was sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading that reaped $400,000 in profit using nonpublic information about the software maker's quarterly earnings and its investment in Barnes & Noble, the US said.

A manager in Microsoft's corporate finance and investment division earning a six-figure salary, Jorgenson, 32, was privy to confidential information about planned acquisitions when he tipped friend Sean Stokke about the Barnes & Noble investment in 2012, prosecutors said.

The two used Jorgenson's access to confidential information twice more in 2013, placing bets before Microsoft's quarterly earnings announcements, before they were stopped by law enforcement. The pair tried to hide their moves with disposable "burner phones" and by passing payouts in $10,000 cash increments, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a related lawsuit.

"I cheated. I tried to take a shortcut for my own financial gain," Jorgenson said at his sentencing hearing today in federal court in Seattle, according to a statement by US Attorney Jenny Durkan. "I persuaded myself it was a gray area, when it clearly was black and white."

Jorgenson, of Lynwood, Washington, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of securities fraud. Stokke, 28, of Seattle, was sentenced last month to 18 months in prison.

Angelo Calfo, Jorgenson's attorney, didn't immediately respond to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the sentencing.

The case is US v. Jorgenson, 14-cr-00120, US District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Bloomberg