TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Employee Sentenced to Prison in Software Theft

Microsoft Employee Sentenced to Prison in Software Theft

Elizabeth M. Gillespie (
Fri, 18 Nov 2005 20:53:29 -0600

By ELIZABETH M. GILLESPIE, Associated Press Writer

A federal judge sentenced a former Microsoft Corp. employee on Friday
to four years in prison for illegally selling millions of dollars of
company software.

Finn W. Contini, 37, of Redmond, pleaded guilty in January to one
count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and four counts of money

He admitted ordering 2,700 pieces of software worth about $7 million
through Microsoft's internal ordering program, which he then sold for
a personal profit of $2.3 million.

Prosecutors argued that Contini recruited others to take part in the
scheme, referring to it as 'theft ring' and calling him the ringleader.

"We dispute the characterization he was a ringleader in any way,"
Contini's attorney, Ralph Hurvitz, said Friday.

Three other employees were sentenced earlier this year. Robert
Howdeshell, 40 of Puyallup, was sentenced to two years and three
months in prison. Alyson Clark, 38, of Normandy Park, and Christine
Hendrickson, 34, of Bothell, each got five months in prison and five
months of home confinement.

According to prosecutors, they used an Internet-based system that
allows Microsoft employees to order software for business purposes at
no personal cost. They then manipulated the system to prevent e-mail
notices of their orders from being sent to their supervisors or
managers. Microsoft said it made changes to make the system more
secure in mid-2002.

As part of a plea agreement reached earlier this year, Contini agreed
to forfeit more than $1.7 million in assets he acquired with money
from the sales scheme, including four properties in Washington and
Oregon, a 2003 Toyota Highlander, a 2002 Honda Civic, silver and gold
coins, and more than $188,000 in bank accounts and currency.

Contini worked at Microsoft from September 1999 until he resigned in
February 2002.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour
ordered Contini serve three years of supervised release and pay $7.1
million in restitution.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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