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Ex-Goldman programmer rejects plea deal

File image of Goldman Sachs. (March 15, 2012)

File image of Goldman Sachs. (March 15, 2012) Credit: AP

A former Goldman Sachs computer programmer who was cleared in federal court of stealing a valuable trading source code has rejected an offer from the Manhattan district attorney to settle state charges without jail time, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Kevin Marino, the lawyer for Sergei Aleynikov, said the offer raised questions about Goldman's influence over the decision of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to prosecute his client a second time after he already served a year in federal prison before a federal appeals court overturned his conviction.

"There's nothing remotely legal or constitutional about what's going on," Marino said during Aleynikov's arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court. "The message is, if you mess with Goldman Sachs you better get ready for the fight of your life. . . . He left Russia in 1990 looking for freedom in America, and he got Franz Kafka and Goldman Sachs."

Aleynikov, 42, of West Orange, N.J., pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with theft of secret scientific information for allegedly trying to take Goldman's high-frequency-trading software code to a new job in 2009. A prosecutor said that if he would plead guilty, he wouldn't have to serve any more jail time.

Successive state and federal prosecutions for the same conduct are unusual, but not unprecedented. Vance's office said in a statement that, even without jail time, it believed a second prosecution was warranted to hold Aleynikov "accountable," and denied any influence by Goldman or federal prosecutors and agents who lost their attempt to convict him.


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