By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc computer programer on Thursday sued the FBI agents who investigated him in connection with allegations he stole secret code from the bank’s computers, contending they violated his constitutional rights.
Sergey Aleynikov, the former programer, filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey less than two months before he faces an April 1 jury trial in a related criminal case in a New York state court in Manhattan.
His lawsuit contends the FBI agents engaged in a “malicious” federal prosecution and violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Aleynikov was convicted at trial but later won an appeal.
The lawsuit said the agents further violated his rights by retaining and transferring evidence seized during his arrest to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, whose office brought the pending state court charges after Aleynikov won the federal appeal.
Aleynikov’s complaint names as defendants Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Michael McSwain and Eugene Casey, as well as other unnamed agents. Representatives for the FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Aleynikov, 45, spent 11 months in prison after a federal jury in Manhattan convicted him in 2010 of stealing trade secrets from Goldman in violation of the National Stolen Property Act and Economic Espionage Act.
Prosecutors had accused Aleynikov of stealing Goldman computer code in 2009 as he prepared to join a Chicago high frequency trading startup.
A federal appeals court threw out the conviction in February 2012, finding his conduct did not constitute an offense under the statutes. But Vance unexpectedly revived the case later that year when he charged Aleynikov with state crimes.
The lawsuit against the FBI agents came two days after Aleynikov sued Goldman Sachs to advance his legal fees to defend against its civil claims against him.
Goldman asserted those claims in counter-suing Aleynikov for damages after he sued the bank in New Jersey in a so far unsuccessful effort to have his legal fees advanced.
Aleynikov has incurred more than $3 million of legal fees tied to Goldman, where he had been a vice president, court papers show.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)