A FORMER eBay and Gannett executive pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to insider trading.

Christopher Saridakis, 45, of Greenville, Del., was a senior executive at GSI Commerce, a King of Prussia-based e-commerce company when he provided confidential information about eBay's pending acquisition of GSI to others.

He faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine when he is sentenced on Sept. 19 by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Richard Zack, Saridakis' attorney, said after the guilty plea that his client has "accepted responsibility for his conduct. He has done everything he can to make it right and will continue to do so. He regrets the pain his conduct has caused his family and friends."

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, on March 20, 2011, Saridakis, who was privy to the upcoming merger, sent a series of text messages urging another person, whom it did not name, to buy shares of GSI "soon."

The other person, who has been cooperating with the feds, is Jules Gardner, 53, of Villanova, Saridakis' longtime friend and business partner. Gardner was named in a parallel civil lawsuit, which was filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Saridakis and Gardner.

On March 22, 2011, Gardner bought 25,000 shares of GSI's stock on margin for about $470,000 - six days before eBay publicly announced it was going to acquire GSI.

On June 17 of that year, GSI merged with San Jose, Calif.-based eBay. Then, on June 20, 2011, Gardner sold his shares for $737,500, making an illegal profit of about $260,000.

Saridakis had also shared the same confidential information with other people, the feds said.

Saridakis became a senior vice president of eBay after the company's acquisition of GSI. He has since resigned from the company.

A Web entrepreneur, Saridakis had been named senior vice president and chief digital officer for the Gannett media company, based in McLean, Va., in January 2008. He left Gannett in April 2010 to join GSI Commerce.