Former Microsoft workers face theft charges

Four former Microsoft employees have been charged with theft, conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering in connection with the alleged theft and resale of US$32 million of Microsoft software.

In a case filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle on Nov. 8, the four former Microsoft employees allegedly took advantage of an internal company program that provided any Microsoft software products free to employees as long as the goods were for business use. Instead, the four workers, Finn W. Contini, Robert A. Howdeshell, Alyson M. Clark and Christine J. Hendrickson, all of whom live in the Seattle area, allegedly requested thousands of software products through the internal program and then sold them for personal gain, according to the 33-page criminal complaint filed against them.

Contini and Howdeshell have unpublished telephone numbers and couldn't be reached for comment. Clark and Hendrickson also couldn't be reached for comment.

Contini, Clark and Hendrickson worked as group assistants at Microsoft, while Howdeshell was a project coordinator, according to the complaint. All four workers had access to the free internal software program, the government alleges.

Contini worked for Microsoft from September 1999 to February 2002, while Howdeshell worked there from May 2000 to October 2001. Clark worked for the company from June 1992 until last month, and Hendrickson worked there from March 2000 until June 2002.

The government alleges that Contini ordered 5,400 software products worth US$17 million through the employee program, while Howdeshell ordered 985 products worth US$4 million. Clark allegedly ordered 618 products worth US$1.7 million, and Hendrickson ordered 1,726 products worth US$9.7 million. Overall, the value of the alleged thefts was about US$32.4 million, according to the complaint.

The software included copies of Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Windows Advanced Server 2000, Exchange Server Enterprise 2000, SQL Server 2000 and SharePoint Portal Server 2001. The government alleges that the four former employees earned more than US$3 million from the sale of the products to middlemen, who then sold them on the secondary market.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Todd R. Weiss

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?