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Thomas Langenbach, a former vice president for enterprise software giant SAP, is facing 30 days in jail and five months wearing an electronic ankle bracelet after entering a guilty plea to a felony commercial burglary charge for posting fraudulent barcodes on Lego toys at Target stores, according to a Santa Clara, Calif., Deputy District Attorney.
Langenbach, 48, who entered the plea before Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Vincent Chiarello, also faces three years of probation that prevents him from entering Target stores for that three-year period, said Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Jim Sibley. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Langenbach is not under house arrest and can still travel to and from work, said Sibley.
Langenbach was initially charged with four counts of commercial burglary, which could have resulted in a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, said Sibley. Formal sentencing after a customary review by the county probation department is scheduled for Sept. 5.
A call was made to Langenbach's attorney, Thomas Greenberg, who was unavailable at press time.
The Lego scam attracted national attention when the one time vice president of SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., was arrested last May and charged with four felony counts of burglary.
Langenbach lived in a multimillion-dollar home in San Carlos, Calif., that was filled with hundreds of Lego boxes. Police alleged at the time that Langenbach had sold $30,000 worth of Lego items on eBay using the moniker "Tomsbrickyard."
Under the low-tech scheme, Langenbach preprinted barcode stickers and then placed them on Lego kits at steep discounts over the original retail barcode prices, Sibley said. The arrest came after Target officials had issued a flyer alerting store employees after capturing the barcoding scam on video surveillance cameras, said Sibley.
Sibley said that barcode switching is relatively common and that there was no evidence that Langenbach had used SAP products or trade secrets to engage in the felony burglary.
Bruce Schneier, a computer security specialist and cryptographer who writes the blog Schneier on Security, said changing price stickers on retail products has been an issue for retailers for many years, even before the advent of barcodes, with young children engaging in the activity. All the crime requires is a simple printer or photocopier, he said. "This is trivial to do," said Schneier. "It's copy and paste."
"This looks like a standard kleptomania crime," he said. "Of course it's a big deal when you catch a high tech executive. Legos are in some way the perfect item to commit this fraud with because they have a high value and are easy to resell. The big kits are very expensive."