- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - A former Goldman Sachs programmer was sentenced Friday to more than eight years in prison for stealing secret computer code that enables high-speed trading.

Sergey Aleynikov, 41, of North Caldwell, N.J., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan after his December conviction for theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property in interstate and foreign commerce.

Cote said she avoided leniency in her sentence of eight years and one month in part because Aleynikov never fully admitted his guilt and accepted responsibility. He also was fined $12,500.

She said she also wanted to send a stern message to people who think it is not a serious crime to steal intellectual property, a crime that costs companies billions of dollars annually and led Congress to pass the Economic Espionage Act to toughen penalties for those who steal.

Prosecutors said Aleynikov left his $400,000 job as a vice president at New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2008 and took trade secrets with him to help his new company, Teza Technologies, gain an advantage with high-speed trading. There, he was to be paid $300,000 annually, with a $700,000 bonus his first year and a revenue-sharing plan afterward.

He was arrested on July 3, 2009, as he returned from a trip to his new employer’s Chicago offices.

Before he was sentenced, Aleynikov said he very much regretted “the foolish decision to download information before I left Goldman Sachs,” though he added that only some of the information he took was proprietary to the company.

Aleynikov, a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the U.S. from Russia in 1990, said he “never meant to cause Goldman any harm and I haven’t acted with malice to anyone at the bank.”

His lawyer, Kevin Marino, called what Aleynikov did a “foolish, horrible, tragic, ridiculous mistake.”

But the judge said it was no mistake.

“It was motivated solely by greed,” she said.

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