(Adds comment from Manhattan district attorney’s office, details of prior court proceedings)
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - The nearly eight-year legal odyssey of former Goldman Sachs Group Inc programmer Sergey Aleynikov is not over, after New York State’s highest court agreed to review his reinstated conviction for stealing high-frequency trading code.
Aleynikov may appeal the conviction won by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance because “questions of law are involved which ought to be reviewed,” the Court of Appeals said in an order dated April 20.
The order came nearly three months after an intermediate appeals court in Manhattan voted 5-0 to revive Aleynikov’s conviction on one count of stealing Goldman code as he prepared to join a Chicago start-up, Teza Technologies LLC.
That vote reinstated a May 2015 jury verdict that was later overturned by the trial judge.
Joan Vollero, a spokeswoman for Vance, declined to comment on Monday.
Kevin Marino, a lawyer for Aleynikov, said he was “thrilled” the court will review the conviction for what Marino said was “violating an outmoded, clearly inapplicable criminal statute.”
The Court of Appeals has not set a date for the review.
Aleynikov, 47, was arrested on federal charges in July 2009 and convicted in December 2010, only to be exonerated by a federal appeals court in February 2012 after serving 11 months of an eight-year prison sentence.
Vance then filed state criminal charges against Aleynikov in August 2012, referring to the “highly confidential” Goldman code as the bank’s “secret sauce.”
In reinstating Aleynikov’s second conviction on Jan. 24, the Appellate Division said Vance offered “legally sufficient” evidence that Aleynikov intended to steal “secret scientific material” from Goldman, violating a 1967 New York state law.
It said the trial judge who had thrown out the conviction, Daniel Conviser, appeared to have wrongly believed that the stolen code needed to be printed on paper for Aleynikov to be guilty of what he called an “obscure” crime.
“The statute was drafted with broad generalized language that fits squarely into today’s digital world,” Justice Rosalyn Richter wrote for the Appellate Division.
Aleynikov, a Russian-born U.S. citizen, has said he intended the code only for his own use.
The Aleynikov tale helped inspire Michael Lewis’ bestselling book “Flash Boys” on high-frequency trading in the U.S. equity market. (Additional reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)