A Connecticut man was arrested on Tuesday on charges that he illegally sold a secret source code used for Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 programs, federal prosecutors said.

The Manhattan United States Attorney's Office said William P. Genovese Jr., 27, was charged with unlawfully distributing a trade secret, a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted.

Genovese was not immediately available for comment.

Prosecutors alleged in the criminal complaint that Genovese had posted a message on his Web site offering to sell the source code, which had previously been stolen by others. Access to a software program's source code can allow someone to replicate the program or find vulnerabilities.

In February 2004, prosecutors said, an investigator hired by Microsoft downloaded a copy of the source code from Genovese's site after making an electronic payment. On another occasion, an undercover FBI agent also made an electronic payment to Genovese and downloaded a copy of the code, according to the complaint.

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