DENVER, Colo. -

The former chief executive of Van Gilder Insurance Corp. who is charged with five counts of insider trading is taking an indefinite leave of absence as an employee of the company and as a member of its board of directors.

Michael Van Gilder pleaded not guilty in federal court in Denver on Wednesday after the company said he was stepping down as chief executive for personal reasons.

An indictment said Van Gilder was a close friend of an executive at Denver-based Delta Petroleum. Van Gilder is accused of trading Delta stock in late 2007 and early 2008 based on nonpublic information, including information from an executive that Delta Petroleum was doing fine despite a published report expressing pessimism.

The Denver Post reported Don Woods, president of Van Gilder Insurance, has assumed Van Gilder's management responsibilities.