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A New Jersey lawyer was sentenced Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison for his role in a hedge fund insider trading scheme as the judge said it was important to send a message of deterrence to Wall Street and to lawyers nationwide.

Arthur Cutillo teamed with another lawyer at a prominent Manhattan law firm to provide tips about mergers and acquisitions of public companies to friends trading stocks professionally.

Cutillo must report to prison in September. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan also ordered the 34-year-old Newark, N.J., resident to forfeit $378,608, which represents a portion of the roughly $7 million that authorities estimate was illegally made by traders as a result of inside information from a variety of sources in the case.

Cutillo, who apologized before he was sentenced, was among those arrested in 2009 when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unveiled what he said was the biggest hedge fund insider trading case in history.

After the sentence was announced, Bharara said: "With today's sentence, he now joins a growing group of privileged professionals who are paying a high price for insider trading."

Cutillo admitted providing tips to a former college friend in 2007 and 2008 about secrets he learned at the international firm Ropes & Gray. In return, he received $32,500 in cash, part of $100,000 paid to Cutillo and another Ropes & Gray lawyer in return for stock tips.

The prosecution also resulted in the conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, a one-time billionaire who the government said made tens of millions of dollars through inside information provided by longtime friends carrying secrets about public companies.

Sullivan cited Cutillo's challenging family circumstances, including two children with special needs, as reasons that he did not boost the sentence beyond the minimum recommended in a plea deal with prosecutors.

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