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MS worker ‘ran’ $17m software racket

62 counts of fraud

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A Microsoft worker has been charged with stealing $17 million of software from Microsoft's internal store in the second case of its type in recent months.

Richard Gregg, 43, and a Windows program co-ordinator, has pleaded not guilty to 62 counts of mail and computer fraud, The Seattle Times reports. Each mail fraud charge can be punished by up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Gregg, who denies the charges, has been released on bail.

From January to October 2002, Gregg allegedly ordered 5,436 copies of software such as Windows XP, SQL Server, Exchange and Office with retail prices over $17 million which he subsequently resold, The Seattle Times reports.

According to the paper, Microsoft fired Gregg last December after mounting an investigation into how some workers were making money on the side by running a black-market software racket out of Microsoft's own Redmond campus.

This investigation began when another Redmond worker, Daniel Feussner, was charged with stealing $9 million in software, which he allegedly used to fund a lavish lifestyle, including buying a private yacht and a Ferrari. Feussner died in February after the 32-old programmer swallowed antifreeze.

Investigators are not linking the two cases. A Microsoft spokeswoman held out the possibility that other people might be charged.

Meanwhile Microsoft has introduced tougher internal procedures that mean workers need management approval before ordering software. ®

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