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Bloomberg extortionist jailed for 4 years

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A Kazakhstan man was jailed yesterday to 51 months in prison following his conviction in February for an attempt to extort $200,000 from Michael Bloomberg, founder of the Bloomberg financial news service.

Oleg Zezev (AKA Oleg Zezov), 29, was convicted of breaking into Bloomberg's computer system, and then emailing Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg threatening that the financial news service's reputation would be put at risk if he wasn't paid. The threat was made in March 2000, prior to Bloomberg's election as New York's mayor in 2001.

After receiving this threat, Bloomberg contacted the FBI and arranged to meet Zezev and alleged accomplice Igor Yarimika in London, where the pair was arrested in an FBI sting operation. The two men were subsequently extradited from the UK to face trial in the US.

Zezev was convicted in a high profile trial, during which Mayor Bloomberg testified for the prosecution. The case against Yarimika was dismissed due to insufficient evidence, after a trial judge ruled that key prosecution evidence was inadmissible.

Yesterday US District Judge Kimba Wood sentenced Zezev to jail for 51 months, one of the longest sentences ever imposed in a computer crime case.

"As the government has pointed out, your crime was a very serious one because of its threat to international commerce and the integrity of data that the financial community relies upon to do its business," said Judge Wood. ®

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