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NEW YORK (AP) A New York judge who has talked tough about insider trading is stepping out of the way of a $1.8 billion criminal settlement involving hedge fund giant SAC Capital.

Federal Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan said at a Wednesday hearing that what he thought of the deal announced Monday "is not really relevant today."

Sullivan presided over a civil case brought against SAC Capital.

The Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund was accused by the government of allowing a work culture that permitted insider trading.

Sullivan says he will sign papers clearing the way for a guilty plea to be entered by SAC lawyers on Friday before another judge.

SAC Capital is owned by billionaire Steven A. Cohen. He has not been criminally charged.