NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc computer programmer charged with stealing code from the investment bank is scheduled to go on trial on Wednesday, the second time in five years he will be in front of a jury for essentially the same accusations.
The trial for Sergey Aleynikov, 45, is scheduled to take place in Manhattan state court over a 2009 episode in which Goldman says he stole the computer code as he prepared to leave for a high-frequency trading startup.
Aleynikov’s case inspired “Flash Boys,” Michael Lewis’ best-selling book last year about high-frequency trading.
Aleynikov went to prison after his first trial, when a jury in federal court convicted him of violating a corporate espionage law. An appeals court threw out the conviction, saying the anti-espionage law did not apply and setting him free after about a year.
The U.S. Constitution generally bars prosecuting someone twice for the same crime, a concept known as double jeopardy, but the prohibition is not absolute.
A Manhattan state judge ruled in 2013 that New York prosecutors could pursue Aleynikov even though the earlier case brought by federal prosecutors collapsed. State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel ruled that the federal and state charges were different, and he said that the federal case was dismissed because the indictment, rather than the evidence, was inadequate.
There are lots of high crimes and misdemeanors floating around, and the case of one computer programmer allegedly stealing Goldman Sachs codes and take them to a competitor hardly seems to rank among them, yet first the federal government, and now the state of New York spent, and continue to spend enormous resources to punish this man. Goldman clearly wants a message sent, and the government is only too happy to oblige.