Microsoft Worker Gets Four Years for Software Theft

A former Microsoft Corp. employee was sentenced to four years in prison Friday for illegally selling the company’s software, netting him US$2.3 million, court documents show.

Finn W. Contini, who worked for the company from September 1999 to February 2002, pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of money laundering. He was also ordered by the U.S. District Court in Seattle to pay $7.1 million in restitution to Microsoft.

Prosecutors said Contini had access to the Microsoft Internal Product Ordering Program, which allowed employees access to an unlimited amount of software and hardware at no cost for internal use. Contini redirected e-mails that would have alerted his supervisors to the order to two accomplices who also worked for Microsoft, according to the court documents.

Three other former Microsoft employees were sentenced earlier this year for their part in the crime. Robert A. Howdeshell, indicted on the same charges as Contini, was sentenced to two years and three months in jail in August and ordered to pay $3.3 million restitution.

Alyson Clark and Christine Hendrickson, both charged with mail fraud, received five month prison terms plus five months of home confinement.

Contini received at least 2,692 pieces of software valued at $7.1 million. As part of the plea agreement, Contini forfeited four properties, a 2003 Toyota Highlander, 2002 Honda Civic along with gold and silver coins, bar and nuggets, according to documents.

By Jeremy Kirk - IDG News Service (London Bureau)

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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