Ex-Fed Programmer Gets Home Confinement for Theft

A computer programmer who worked for a contractor at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was sentenced to six months of home confinement for stealing U.S. Treasury Department software used to track federal collections and payments.

Bo Zhang, a 33-year-old Chinese citizen, was sentenced today in federal court in Manhattan. Zhang pleaded guilty in May to one count of theft of government property and one count of immigration fraud for lying to immigration authorities in support of other people’s visas.

The software, which cost millions of dollars to develop, wasn’t given to anyone else and is still used by the government, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said in court today.

“It’s very difficult to reconcile Mr. Zhang’s criminal conduct with his productive history in the country, his educational attainments,” Gardephe said, citing achievements including a master’s degree in computer science from Dartmouth College. “It’s apparent that if the code had been conveyed to someone else, it could have been very damaging.”

Zhang was sentenced three years of supervised release along with home confinement. Defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said during the hearing that Zhang, who was in the U.S. on a work visa, probably will be deported.

Under non-binding federal sentencing guidelines, Zhang may have faced 12 to 18 months in prison plus a fine of as much as $30,000.

The case is U.S. v. Zhang, 1:12-cr-00390, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Christie Smythe in New York at csmythe1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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