A U.S. judge sentenced a former general counsel of recruitment services company Monster Worldwide Inc to one-year probation after he pleaded guilty in 2007 and cooperated with a probe into a fraud over the backdating of millions of dollars worth of stock options.

In sentencing the former lawyer, Myron Olesnyckyj, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff spoke of the under-appreciated despicableness of the crimes of executives involved in the back dating of stock options backdating at Monster and other companies from the mid-1990s to 2002.

U.S. prosecutors and Olesnyckyj's lawyer cited his extensive cooperation with the government that set the stage for other prosecutions in the case. He will serve no prison time after pleading guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud in February 2007.

It is troubling to the court that backdating stock options and the accounting fraud they generated were seemingly so widespread in corporate America, Rakoff said. Stripped to its essence, it was high executives choosing to lie to line their pockets.

The same judge sentenced James Treacy, the former chief operating officer and president of Monster Worldwide Inc to two years in prison in September for illegally enriching himself and others in the scheme.

I apologize for the commission of my offences, said Olesnyckyj, who was close to tears in court. I cannot explain my actions nor do I excuse them.

U.S. prosecutors said the backdating scheme led to the fraudulent understatement of the company's compensation expenses by more than $300 million.

The charges stemmed from an investigation into the global employment listings service for options backdating, a practice in which option grant dates are changed retroactively to allow recipients to reap greater profit.

The case is USA v Olesnyckyj, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 07-00120.

(Reporting by Grant McCool)