Baron Capital of New York, the broker/dealer affiliate of mutual fund asset management firm BAMCO and the distributor of shares of four Baron Funds, has been sanctioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also, Ronald Baron, 59, BAMCO's highly visible founder, chairman and chief executive, and two of the firm's traders were punished for their ill deeds.

In assessing a collective $2.7 million fine, the SEC charged that Baron Capital manipulated the closing price of a stock by repeatedly buying shares of the security just before the market close. The intent was to drive up the price of the security, for which the merger was contingent upon, the SEC alleges. The illegal manipulative practice is commonly known as "marking the close."

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