Apple Options Prosecutors Quit

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Two Federal prosecutors from the team investigating Apple Inc. for stock option backdating have announced that they are leaving their offices for law firms in the private sector. MSNBC reports that both Kevin Ryan and Chris Steskal have both announced their intentions to retire from the U.S. government.

The loss of both Mr. Steskal and his supervisor, Mr. Ryan, could cause delays in federal investigations into improper backdating at Apple as well as several other companies while new investigators are assigned to the cases.

A spokesperson for northern Californiais U.S Attorneyis office commented "US Attorney Ryan is taking care to ensure a smooth transition in the officeis cases. There continue to be many assistant US attorneys with strong investigative skills and substantial trial experience on the stock options backdating task force and throughout the office, who are fully capable of carrying on the work of the task force."

The announcements follow news that the U.S. Justice Department is removing several of its attorneys. According to The New York Times, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) noted that Mr. Ryan was being pushed out of his job "without cause," and that between 5 and 10 attorneys were being removed. She claims to be aware of seven so far that have been dismissed without cause.

According to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the dismissals are not in any way political. Some prosecutors are leaving voluntarily, he said, while others are being dismissed.

The investigation into Apple stemmed from reports that the Mac and iPod maker had improperly backdated stock option grants. Apple conducted its own independent investigation that concluded that although some option grants were improperly handled, the current management team was not involved.

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