In a criminal case sure to make programmers nervous, a software maker who licenses a program used by online casinos and bookmakers overseas is being charged with promoting gambling in New York because authorities say his software was used by others for illegal betting in that state.
New York authorities say that about $2.3 million that Robert Stuart and his company, Extension Software, received in cash and money orders for licensing his software constitutes direct proceeds of illegal, U.S.-based bookmaking operations. . . .It appears the government is prosecuting Stuart because he refused to be blackmailed by New York State authorities:
“It’s overreaching where they’re going after a software developer who sells the software with a legal license, and yet we’re still being prosecuted on how it’s being used,” Stuart says. He notes that authorities have not told him yet who exactly he’s accused of aiding and abetting.
Stuart asserts that New York authorities only came after him because they wanted to use him as a conduit to uncover illegal gambling operations in that state. He says the New York district attorney’s office tried to strong-arm him into a plea agreement that would have had him hacking into the systems of his software clients in order to obtain the usernames and passwords of gamblers and their bookmakers to help authorities gather evidence of illegal gambling.
Although Stuart initially agreed to the terms of the plea, he later recanted because he said he was uncomfortable being used as a pawn to secretly collect information on his customers. He claims authorities are charging him now in retaliation for refusing to cooperate with them.