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A New York state appellate court has restored the criminal conviction of an ex-Goldman Sachs programmer who was convicted of stealing trade secrets—high-frequency trading source code—before leaving his job in 2009.
“It would be incongruous to allow a defendant to escape criminal liability merely because he made a digital copy of the misappropriated source code instead of printing it onto a piece of paper,” the panel said, according to Bloomberg.
Sergey Aleynikov was convicted in federal court in 2010 on one count of stealing trade secrets and one count of transporting stolen property.
He was released from prison when the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the conviction in 2012.
The appeals court wrote that Aleynikov did not steal anything physical when copying the source code because it was done over the Internet and did not violate the National Stolen Property Act.
After that ruling, state charges were brought, this time under New York Penal Code § 165.07 Unlawful Use of Secret Scientific Material.
That legislation was written in 1967 and specifically refers to “a tangible reproduction.” Aleynikov was initially found guilty by a New York jury trial in May 2015.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. sent the case up to the Appellate Division, where the prosecutor lost the case in July 2015.
Aleynikov, who was featured in the book Flash Boys, can now appeal further to the New York Court of Appeals, the court of last resort within the Empire State.