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back to article Goldman Sachs developer cleared of code theft

A programmer who developed high-frequency trading code for financial powerhouse Goldman Sachs has won his appeal against an eight-year prison sentence, and been released from jail. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Sergey Aleynikov, a naturalized US citizen from Russia, was not guilty of stealing computer code under …

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Holmes

Not just quibbling... quashed!

"The appeals court also directed the trial court to enter a judgment of acquittal. Generally, this means the defendant cannot be retried."

... from another news article. Freed immediately, conviction quashed. Is that _just_ because they used the wrong law to charge him with? Or was there far far less to this than represented to the press to begin with?

Duplicitous big company using the dupable law to destroy the small fry... Remember this one?

"A Canadian judge has blocked the extradition of a former Cisco Systems executive and slammed that company and U.S. authorities for allegedly duping Canadian officials into arresting him."

https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9217300/Canada_blocks_extradition_of_Cisco_suspect

Remember also, this guy's been sitting in the stir for a year!

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The trading algorithm is probably a few screens of code, so I suppose he needed the infrastructure.

Still a very dumb idea to try and upload anything when the entire traffic in/out is monitored.

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The sentence itself was absurd

In fact, a lot of the sentencing for relatively minor crimes in the US has me question whether or not they have any right to call themselves the land of the free (bearing in mind so many people are in point of fact not actually free there). What next? Hanging for stealing a loaf of bread?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The sentence itself was absurd

deportation to a far away land perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The sentence itself was absurd

Let us review. He is accused of taking proprietary information, which the company alleges provides them a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and selling it to a competitor.

IF TRUE, then his actions could have cost his former employer millions of dollars, in which case one has to view this as the 'theft' of millions of dollars.

Whether he was prosecuted under the wrong statutes has no bearing on whether or not his actions deserved punishment.

Given what I believe the facts to be, he ought to be locked away.

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Stop

@AC 17:53

It doesn't matter what you believe the facts are. It absolutely does matter whether he was prosecuted under the wrong statutes - it's not as though murder and rape are the same charge. Both deserve punishment, but they have entirely different criteria for charging.

Charge him under the right statutes and we'll see if he deserves more punishment than he has already got.

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FAIL

Re: Re: The sentence itself was absurd

Anonymous Coward @17:53 you are an Anonymous Idiot.

IF TRUE, then his actions could have cost his former employer millions of dollars, in which case one has to view this as the 'theft' of millions of dollars.

In criminal cases the theft of the item is based on it's actual value NOT the potential Earning capabilities of the item. In this case the development costs or purchase price. The above statement sounds like the typical crap a music executive would spew out on the subject of music piracy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: The sentence itself was absurd (AC 17:53)

Care to let us know where in GS you work?

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Stop

Re: Re: Re: The sentence itself was absurd (AC 17:53)

He's obviously CEO Lloyd "I'm doing God's work" Blankfein. :)

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Innocent until proven guilty - but still in jail even when proven innocent

'What’s unusual is that they ordered the immediate release,” Aleynikov’s lawyer Kevin Marino told The Register. “Usually this process takes weeks or months.”'

So, as Jason Hindle pointed out, the punishment handed out is quite disproportionate. Indeed, even when the accused is found innocent, apparently they can keep him in jail for a few months just for good measure.

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Go directly to jail, do not pass go...

Anyone from the US want to explain to me how the keeping someone in jail for weeks or months after being found innocent works? In the UK you're legally allowed to leave and walk off any time the judge utters "not guilty" and taps his hammer.

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Re: Go directly to jail, do not pass go...

Not from the US, but I suspect the answer would be an overworked justice dept.

I don't think that you could walk out of a prison just on the word of a magistrate; I imagine that the paperwork must be be completed first.

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Re: Go directly to jail, do not pass go...

What they are talking about is over turning a conviction, That is not the same as being found innocent . The reason for holding is to see if the DA plans to appeal. Depending on what the charge is you may or may not be granted bail. But usually winning your appeal does not take weeks or months to be freed but matter of days .

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Anonymous Coward

Goldman Sachs and Open Source

> What they are talking about is over turning a conviction, That is not the same as being found innocent.

ianal but that's exactly what it means when the Court reverses a conviction and enters a ruling of acquittal.

> The reason for holding is to see if the DA plans to appeal

They're not holding him, "the court ruled that he should be released from jail immediately.

".

I notice that Aleynikov claimed to have used a mix of propriatry and open source code. I trust that Goldman Sachs is in compliance with the licence.

"A defense lawyer, Kevin Marino, argued in his opening statement that Aleynikov intended to strip out pieces of open- source software"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-30/ex-goldman-programmer-sergey-aleynikov-s-theft-trial-begins-in-new-york.html

"During a two-week trial, Marino told jurors that his client was merely trying to copy parts of the company’s software that were taken from public software codes".

http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-17/news/31072307_1_trade-secrets-sergey-aleynikov-appeals-court

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Re: Goldman Sachs and Open Source

No over turning a convection is not the same . Being found not guilty means that's the end of it . I don't know how I can make this any more clear . A conviction that is over turned can be appealed . If there is an appeal the next judge can sit aside the previous judges ruling . If that happens the person goes back to jail . Now do you see how over turning a convection is not the same as being found not guilty. There is a difference between a conviction overturned and set a side . overturned means the conviction is gone and if the DA does not appeal the process is done and over . when a conviction is set a side it means that verdict is nullified and a new trial is ordered . In this case it was over turned and the judge feels like there is no chance that the DA an win an appeal so he set the guy free right away .

"> The reason for holding is to see if the DA plans to appeal

They're not holding him, "the court ruled that he should be released from jail immediately."

I don't if you misunderstood what I was saying or intentional adding thing that are not there My entire response was a into answer of why a person would be held in jail after there conviction has been overturned and not specially about this case so I'm well aware that he was let go .

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Silver badge

Re: Re: Go directly to jail, do not pass go...

You are presumably in court to hear the judgement. If the judge says "not guilty", you walk out onto the street. If he says "guilty", you get escorted back to the prison van.

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Re: Goldman Sachs and Open Source

If it was a mix of GPL software and Goldman Sachs' proprietary software, they wouldn't be able to sell it without releasing the whole thing as GPL. But Goldman Sachs didn't sell the software, they only used it internally, so licensing issues would not be a problem. It will be the same for any other licence that complies with the Free Software Foundation's "Freedom 0" - the right to use the software for any purpose.

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There is no hammer.

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Anonymous Coward

Land of the Free

The USA has less than 5% of the world's population, but hold an amazing 23% of the world's prisoners. Not trying be critical, but facts is facts.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/02/02/f-vp-stewart.html

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Flame

Re: Land of the Free

I think it is called "Revenge-based Justice". A classic is Bernie Ebbers of MCI, who got 23 years for cooking the books a little. In Germany, we even release terrorists who have killed after 23 years, when they can show they no longer pose a threat.

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Silver badge

Re: Land of the Free

Incarceration is big business here. It's a major employer, and a source of lucrative government contracts, and a huge pool of cheap labor (essentially it's indentured servitude). It's also very popular with a large portion of the electorate, so it's politically useful.

None of this is new. Angela Davis and others were writing about the "prison-industrial complex" not long after Eisenhower coined "military-industrial complex". Both remain major US institutions for precisely the same reason: they move a lot of money around and they make a lot of scared people happier. Bread and circus.

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Meh

The prosecution may have used the wrong statute

I suppose that restoring a bit of sanity in non-violent crime sentencing is worth a bit of legal misses.

But those were not the deeds of an ethical and honest person.

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Stop

One of the usual 'cases' of Government Sachs mafia just tripped,,,

,,,which is quite surprising even with the fact that the whole story was a breathtaking breach of every concievable law in the first place, helped by 3 countries intelligence and security services, seizing computers from racks without any second thought that they are bankrupting other companies when their sites are hosted on the same node etc etc,,,

,,,just one frightening display of the incredible power and influence this excptionally evil corporate machine called Government Sachs wields all over the world.

And suddenly they lost. Sweet irony... The immediate release is probably to save a few bucks when this guy will sue them, nothing else.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One of the usual 'cases' of Government Sachs mafia just tripped,,,

Goldman Sachs wield power, yes. It turns out that a few companies rule most of the world. New research proves this with new mathematical tools. Data mining financial databases over 37 million companies, showed that a few companies owned the rest: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc.

Read this new breakthrough research:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed--the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

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Unhappy

Never post soucrce code out of secure environment.

Always likely to cause trouble.

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FAIL

Goldman Sachs + US Government Fail

This former Defendant was smart - he did't take a deal and he didn't accept faulty law adjudicated by a gullible judge.

The US Federal Government habitually 'over charge' people and then, like second-hand car salesmen offer a deal 'that you can;t refuse;. Charged person pleads guilty, usually an irreversible decision, and the judge drops his gavel and another sausage goes through the machine.

Happened with the Barclay bankers and is likely the fate that awaits others awaiting deportation from Britain to the 'land of the free' (sic).

Strange how they trumpet the accused with a 'perp' walk and yet when the prosecutor and government fail you could here a pin drop. Congratulation to The Reg for publicising this matter. Not that it will make much difference for in the US he will still have a record of his arrest that will follow him around for the rest of his life. That is why American cops ask: "Have you ever been arrested" rather than "Do you have a criminal record".

I've designed electronic hardware which included public domain circuitry, and have been accused of 'stealing' it by using it in other companies I worked for. It's kind of hard to think of a smart way to achieve a function without falling back on a tried and trusted design.

Likewise with software. No doubt Blankfein is having all sorts of unhappy thoughts about this successful appeal. Just proves that even with all Goldman's lawyers back stopping the government they still couldn't prevail with this false charge.

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@JaitcH

JaitcH you do know it's easy to have arrested were there was no conviction removed from your record in the US?

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Unhappy

Arrest records in the US

All 'interaction' with law enforcement is recorded.

I worked for a US company and it had certain US government customers/ Only US citizens were permitted in these premises.

One company employee, who had a senior design function with the system in the US Government building,in other words he knew it inside out, was called in to help resolve a problem.

When he attended, the Secret Service guards ran his name through their computer and he was denied entry. THE REASON? He had a childhood misdemeanour involving a broken window. And childhood convictions are supposed to be suppressed.

Some Land of the Free!

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