SEC accuses former Pinnacle Financial board member of insider trading...during board meeting

The Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington.
Jim Bourg | Reuters

It didn't take long for James Cope to get in trouble, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The agency formally charged Cope, a lawyer and former member of Pinnacle Financial Partners's board, with insider trading on Friday after he allegedly purchased shares of Avenue Financial Holdings prior to the two firms announcing a merger in January.

"According to the SEC's complaint, Cope learned confidential details about the planned merger during a board executive committee meeting on Jan. 5, 2016, and proceeded to place his first order to purchase Avenue Financial stock while that executive committee meeting was still in progress," the SEC said in a release, adding Cope allegedly made four more order within an hour after the meeting ended.

Pinnacle Financial did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Aubrey Harwell, Cope's attorney, told CNBC by phone: "Jim Cope has been a friend of mine for 40 years. He made a mistake in judgment and he's accepting responsibility for his mistake."

Cope resigned from Pinnacle's board in April.