News and Press Releases

FORMER MICROSOFT EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGALLY SELLING COMPANY SOFTWARE WORTH $7.1 MILLION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2005

FINN W. CONTINI, 36, of Redmond, WA pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and four counts of Money Laundering. CONTINI used his position as a Group Assistant at Microsoft to exploit a flaw in the Microsoft Internal Ordering Program (IPOP) and ordered more than $7 million in Microsoft software that he then sold for his personal profit. CONTINI and three other former Microsoft employees, ALYSON CLARK, 38, of Normandy Park, CHRISTINE HENDRIKSON, 34, of Bothell and ROBERT HOWDESHELL, 40, of Puyallup were charged in November 2004 with Conspiracy, Mail Fraud and Money laundering in connection with the scheme.

According to the plea agreement, CONTINI used the IPOP system to order software electronically from Client Logic, the vendor responsible for completing the order. The system was supposed to notify CONTINI'S manager or supervisor of the order by e-mail. Instead on occasion, CONTINI entered another employee's e-mail alias, such as that of CHRISTINE HENDRICKSON or ROBERT HOWDESHELL, rather than that of his manager when submitting software orders. When CONTINI resigned from Microsoft in February of 2002, he joined with other employees to continue to fraudulently obtain Microsoft software. He instructed ALYSON CLARK and CHRISTINE HENDRICKSON which software to order, the amounts to order, and where to send the software. CONTINI would then receive a percentage of the proceeds of the sale of the software ordered by these employees. CONTINI himself ordered at least 2,692 pieces of software, which he sold for approximately $2.3 million. The government has reserved the ability at sentencing to prove additional amounts of software that it believes were fraudulently ordered by CONTINI.

As part of the plea agreement CONTINI has agreed to forfeit a number of assets he obtained with money from the scheme. These assets are valued at more the $1.7 million and include four properties in Washington and Oregon, a 2003 Toyota Highlander, a 2002 Honda Civic, silver and gold coins and more than $188,000 in bank accounts and in currency.

Sentencing is set for June 3, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. in front of U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour at the Federal Courthouse in Seattle.

Both CLARK and HOWDESHELL are scheduled for plea hearings Friday, January 28, 2005 in front of Magistrate Judge John L. Weinberg.

The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI.

Assistant United States Attorney Katheryn K. Frierson is prosecuting the case.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer, United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington at (206)553-4110.

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