It seems that the former programmer who Goldman Sachs may or may not be desperate to see back in jail should never have been arrested in the first place, with the corollary that he shouldn’t have had to spend that year in prison or the five years in and out of courtrooms. Whoops.
In a 71-page opinion, Justice Ronald A. Zweibel of State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled that the F.B.I. “did not have probable cause to arrest defendant, let alone search him or his home.” The arrest was “illegal,” Justice Zweibel wrote, and Mr. Aleynikov’s “Fourth Amendment rights were violated as a result of a mistake of law.”
The “illegal arrest” contaminated much of the government’s case, according to Justice Zweibel, who granted most of Mr. Aleynikov’s motion to suppress the evidence.
For example, several computers recovered at Mr. Aleynikov’s home — as well as a laptop and thumb drive he was carrying at the airport — can no longer be used at trial. And Mr. Aleynikov’s initial statements to the F.B.I. at the airport, which he gave before learning of his Miranda right to remain silent, “must also be suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree,” a reference to the illegal arrest….
Justice Zweibel took issue with the evidence in the case. While the Manhattan district attorney’s office received the evidence from federal prosecutors, who obtained approval from the judge who oversaw his trial, Justice Zweibel concluded that the “property should have been returned to defendant” after the appeals court overturned his conviction.
He still has to face (a second) trial, though, because the FBI didn’t mean to wrongfully ruin his life and because he had a friendly chat with them after agreeing to be sans lawyer.
The case is not over. Justice Zweibel had previously denied Mr. Aleynikov’s motion to dismiss the case….
Justice Zweibel declined to throw out later statements Mr. Aleynikov made at F.B.I. headquarters. Although those statements were “made as a result of the F.B.I.’s exploitation of defendant’s illegal arrest,” Mr. Aleynikov had by then waived his right to a lawyer.
Justice Zweibel noted that “while defendant was illegally arrested because of a mistake of law,” the F.B.I. “did not deliberately act in bad faith.”
Judge Throws Out Evidence in Sergey Aleynikov’s Code Theft Case [DealBook]