A federal jury on Thursday convicted bitcoin trader, libertarian activist, and radio host Ian Freeman of all the felonies related to his cryptocurrency business, U.S. Attorney Jane E. Young announced.
The 42-year-old faced dozens of federal felony charges related to the laundering of bitcoins that he says were stolen from him.
According to several reports, Freeman, the only Crypto Six defendant to go to trial instead of taking a plea deal, has been found guilty of all charges, including money transmission without authorization, money laundering, and tax evasion.
On March 16, 2021, federal agents raided the Free Talk Live studio, the Bitcoin Embassy, and the Shire Free Church in Keen, New Hampshire. The Department of Justice (DoJ) charged six New Hampshire residents for operating a cryptocurrency exchange business without proper permission. DoJ’s “Crypto Six” indictment “alleges that the defendants knowingly operated the crypto exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations.”
Freeman, formerly known as Ian Bernard, was the only remaining defendant left standing in the case, having decided to bring it to a trial in order to get his case before a jury. After his conviction, Freeman called the government dishonest and said that he planned on appealing in a brief telephone interview.
“By failing to register his business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network as required by law, disabling ‘know your customer’ features on his bitcoin kiosks, and ensuring that bitcoin customers did not tell him what they did with their bitcoin, among other things, Freeman created a business that catered to fraudsters. By charging exorbitant fees, Freeman made in excess of a million dollars.”
Young said: “The culture of scamming through the internet has become a pervasive societal problem. These scammers get away with their crimes, which often victimize some of our most vulnerable citizens, by hiding their tracks, including the money trail.
“Money launderers such as Ian Freeman are the ones who help hide the money for these scammers. Today’s swift verdict sends a strong message that this type of money laundering will not be tolerated. Stopping scammers by disrupting their methods for hiding their tracks is an important federal objective. This prosecution is an important step in meeting that objective,” Young said.
According to court filings and testimony from witnesses over a ten-day trial, Freeman laundered more than ten million dollars of proceeds from romance scams and other Internet frauds, exchanging US dollars for Bitcoin.
“The federal government proved at this trial their dishonesty and their violent tendency,” Freeman told In Depth NH.
“We showed to the jury quite clearly the insane violent raid against our home and dishonesty of the federal agent in this case under cross examination. It’s a disappointing verdict. I was never involved in harming anyone…We will appeal,” Freeman said.
Freeman and Aria DiMezzos faced dozens of criminal charges over the millions of dollars they are said to have taken through their Bitcoin exchanges and bitcoin ATMs. According to the charges, they have also used private bank accounts and accounts purportedly created for churches, such as Shire Free Church, The Crypto Church of New Hampshire, The Church of the Invisible Hand, and The Satanic Reformed Church. Prosecutors say that Bitcoin merchants running his crypto businesses defrauded and otherwise cheated the people who donated money to Keene-area churches.
Freeman was found guilty in US District Court of laundering, operating a non-licensed money transmission business, and tax evasion.
Freeman is scheduled to be sentenced April 14, 2023.
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