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Former Federal Reserve Bank Contractor Pleads Guilty In Code Theft

Deal in case of theft of accounting software worth $9.5 million could cut programmer's prison sentence from 10 years to less than two
A man arrested in January for allegedly stealing proprietary software code from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where he had worked as a contractor has pled guilty to the crime.

Bo Zhang, 33, of Queens, N.Y., earlier this year admitted to stealing the Government-Wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA) from the bank in July 2011 while he worked there as a contractor developing a piece of the GWA source code. He allegedly copied the GWA code onto an external hard drive owned by the bank and used it in a private computer-programming training business.

The GWA software application, worth $9.5 million, is owned by the U.S. Treasury Department, and tracks U.S. government finances. It handles ledger accounting within Treasury and account statements to federal agency bank customers. The source code is housed in "an access-controlled" database at the Federal Reserve Board of New York, where it's under further development by the bank, according to the Justice Department.

Zhang's cooperation could result in a drastically shortened prison sentence: The crime could mean up to 10 years, but under a cooperation agreement, prosecutors have recommended he get one year to one-and-a-half years in prison. Zhang, who is free on $200,000 bail, will be sentenced on Oc. 1, according to a Reuters report.

"I knowingly stole and converted to my use an item owned by the United States government valued at more than $1,000," Zhang told U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Dolinger this week, according to Reuters. "Specifically, while working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, I appropriated proprietary software owned by the United States Department of Treasury for my own personal use."

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