| NEW YORK, June 20
NEW YORK, June 20 A New York state judge on
Friday significantly narrowed the evidence the Manhattan
district attorney can use in its case against a former Goldman
Sachs computer programmer accused of stealing secret code from
State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel, in Manhattan,
held that prosecutors cannot use as evidence a laptop and other
physical evidence the FBI had obtained in an earlier federal
action against the former programmer, Sergey Aleynikov.
Zweibel also held that the district attorney's office cannot
introduce statements that Aleynikov made before he was read his
Miranda rights when the FBI arrested him in 2009, as there was
no probable cause for the arrest.
"There is no doubt that these statements must also be
suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree as a result of
defendant's illegal arrest," Zweibel wrote in a 71-page ruling.
Aleynikov was initially charged by federal prosecutors, who
accused him of stealing trading code from Goldman Sachs Group
Inc in 2009 as he prepared to join a high-frequency
trading startup firm in Chicago. He was found guilty in 2010,
but a federal appeals court in New York later overturned the
verdict, saying that federal corporate espionage laws did not
cover Aleynikov's alleged illegal activity. Aleynikov was
released after spending nearly a year in prison.
In August 2012, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
charged Aleynikov with two felonies under New York state law:
unlawful use of secret scientific material and unlawful
duplication of computer related material.
The evidence included the laptop, a flash drive and
computers the FBI seized in its search of Aleynikov and his
home, which they later gave to Vance's office after Aleynikov's
federal conviction was overturned. Zweibel said that it was
"improper" of the FBI to give the evidence to the district
attorney's office even after Aleynikov requested that the
property be returned.
"This constituted an unauthorized seizure and retention of
defendant's property that was unreasonable under the
circumstances," Zweibel wrote.
Zweibel denied Aleynikov's motion to suppress statements he
made to the FBI after he was read his Miranda rights.
In a statement, Aleynikov's lawyer, Kevin Marino, said
Zweibel's decision gutted the district attorney's case and was
"another important step on Sergey Aleynikov's long journey to
The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to
Last year, Zweibel denied Aleynikov's motion to dismiss the
case, saying Aleynikov did not show that the charges brought by
Vance amounted to double jeopardy.
Aleynikov was featured in author Michael Lewis's book "Flash
Boys" earlier this year.
The case is People v. Aleynikov, New York State Supreme
Court for New York County, No. 04447/2012.
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Leslie Adler)