Jul 6, 7:35 PM EDT

Court overturns ex-Goldman Sachs programmer's conviction

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NEW YORK (AP) -- A New York state judge on Monday overturned the conviction of a former Goldman Sachs programmer for stealing confidential computer code - three years after a federal appeals court overturned his conviction on similar charges.

State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Conviser said in his ruling prosecutors didn't prove as required by state law that Sergey Aleynikov made a "tangible" copy of secret computer code designed to run high-frequency trading on his last day of work at Goldman in June 2009.

A spokeswoman said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance is deciding whether to appeal the case. State law allows judges to overturn jury verdicts under certain circumstances.

"We think this defendant committed a crime. So did the jury," Joan Vollero said in a statement. "If what Sergey Aleynikov did isn't a crime, then every company that values its intellectual property should be concerned.

Lawyers for Aleynikov, 45, have maintained their client violated Goldman's confidentiality rules, not the law, and so the matter should be handled in civil not criminal court.

"It feels great," Aleynikov told the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1UtlxNQ ) outside court.

Aleynikov was arrested on federal corporate espionage charges in 2009, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. He served a year before a federal appeals court overturned that decision in 2012.

Just six months later Vance unveiled state charges against him. In May, a jury found Aleynikov guilty of one count illegally using secret material but acquitted him of another charge and was deadlocked on a third.

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