Chinese man pleads guilty to NY Fed cyber theft
NEW YORK May 29 (Reuters) - A Chinese computer programmer on Tuesday pleaded guilty to stealing software code from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Bo Zhang, 33, was accused of illegally copying the software code to an external hard drive, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The charge was made public on Jan. 18.
Authorities said the software, owned by the U.S. Treasury Department, cost about $9.5 million to develop.
"I knowingly stole and converted to my use an item owned by the United States government valued at more than $1,000," Zhang told U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger on Tuesday.
"Specifically, while working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, I appropriated proprietary software owned by the United States Department of Treasury for my own personal use," said Zhang, who is a U.S. permanent resident.
Zhang on Tuesday also pleaded guilty to one charge of immigration fraud. He is currently free on $200,000 bail and is due to be sentenced on Oct. 1.
The code, called the Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program, was developed to help track the billions of dollars the U.S. government transfers daily. The program provides federal agencies with a statement of their account balance, the court documents said.
Zhang was hired as a contract employee in May 2011 by an unnamed technology consulting company used by the New York Fed to work on its computers, court documents said.
According to an April cooperation agreement with Zhang, Manhattan federal prosecutors recommended he be sentenced to one to 1-1/2 years in prison, much less than the potential 10-year maximum term the theft charge carries.
The case is USA v. Bo Zhang, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12-0390.
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