News and Press Releases

Sold Software on the gray market for more than $2 million

November 18, 2005

FINN W. CONTINI, 37, of Redmond, Washington was sentenced today to 48 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $7.1 million in restitution for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and four counts of Money Laundering. CONTINI is the last of four defendants to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour for the scheme to defraud Microsoft. 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 recruited other Microsoft employees to his scheme, telling them what software to order and then selling it illegally. ROBERT HOWDESHELL, 40, of Puyallup was sentenced August 12, 2005 to 27 months in prison; ALYSON CLARK, 38, of Normandy Park, was sentenced August 12, 2005 to five months in prison and five months of home confinement; and CHRISTINE HENDRICKSON, 34, of Bothell was sentenced September 30, 2005 to five months in prison and five months home confinement.

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 email. Instead, on occasion, CONTINI entered another employee's email alias, such as that of CHRISTINE HENDRICKSON or ROBERT HOWDESHELL, rather than that of his manager when submitting software orders. CONTINI ordered at least 2,692 pieces of software, which he sold for approximately $2.3 million. In asking for the long prison term Assistant United States Attorney Katheryn Frierson pointed out that CONTINI had manipulated these other Microsoft employees to get involved in the scheme.

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 than $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. However, following the forfeiture agreement, CONTINI apparently used a baseball bat to extensively damage at least one of the properties. CONTINI blamed the destruction on a psychological disability and tried to avoid incarceration claiming his severe food allergies and mental problems made imprisonment untenable. Judge Coughenour however ruled that a prison term was justified given the other sentences already handed down in the case.

The case was investigated by IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Katheryn K. Frierson prosecuted 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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