A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc computer programer was sentenced to eight years in prison on Friday for stealing secret code used in the Wall Street bank's valuable high-frequency trading system.

The programer, Sergey Aleynikov, was arrested by the FBI and charged in July 2009 with copying and removing trading code from Goldman before taking a new job at Teza Technologies LLC, a high-frequency trading start up firm in Chicago.

Aleynikov, 41, a onetime collegiate-level competitive ballroom dancer, was convicted of trade secrets theft and transporting stolen property across state lines on December 10, after a two-week long jury trial in Manhattan federal court.

I very much regret the foolish thing of taking information. Part of this information was proprietary to Goldman. I never meant to cause Goldman any harm or harm anyone at the bank, Aleynikov told the judge during the sentence proceeding.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote imposed the sentence of 97 months on Aleynikov after hearing federal prosecutors recommend eight to 10 years.

Aleynikov's lawyer had originally asked for a sentence of probation but in court on Friday suggested two years was adequate.

Cote revoked the bail of the dual citizen of the United States and Russia on February 28 on the grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing before sentencing.

The case is USA v Aleynikov, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-00096.

(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)