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TIP ON CHAIN’S OFFER BRINGS SEC LAWSUIT

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A financing specialist who worked for the parent company of Alpha Beta supermarkets is accused of violating securities laws by tipping his father to the chain's impending acquisition of Lucky markets.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a civil lawsuit filed this week that David Hellberg, Salt Lake City, aided and abetted insider trading when he was manager of special projects for American Stores last year.As an insider, the suit said, Hellberg learned that American, based in Irvine, Calif., was about to make a tender offer for Lucky stock in March 1988 and informed his father, Gerald Hellberg of Salt Lake City, before the information became public.

Gerald Hellberg used the information to invest about $15,000 in Lucky stock options before the takeover was publicly announced on March 22, 1988, and sold them in the six days afterward for a profit of $328,844, the lawsuit said.

Public disclosure of the tender offer drove the price of Lucky's common stock up from a closing price of $32.25 per share on March 21 to a high of $47.25 per share on March 22, the suit said.

David Hellberg, 31, said, "I feel the charges have no merit and I plan to defend myself against them." Gerald Hellberg, 59, said he had "nothing to say" about the lawsuit.

Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.