Bitcoin advocate and entrepreneur Charlie Shrem was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday for indirectly helping to send $1 million in the digital currency to the Internet black-market bazaar Silk Road, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Shrem was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan to forfeit $950,000 after pleading guilty in September to aiding and abetting an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Judge Rakoff said:
“[Shrem] was knowingly, willfully, and to some extent excitedly, even passionately involved in activity that he knew was a serious violation of the law and that was promoting the evil business of trafficking in drugs.”
Shrem is a former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and the founder of the Bitcoin exchange Bitinstant, was arrested at JFK airport in New York in April, on charges of money laundering and acting as an unlicensed money transmitter.
Shrem is prominently featured in The Rise And Rise of Bitcoin, the acclaimed film about the history and prospects of Bitcoin released in October. Shrem’s arrest and following house detention are among the latest stories covered in the film, which was in its final wrap-up phase in April.
Shrem’s lawyers said that their client was not interested in promoting the Silk Road website, but his advocacy of Bitcoin led him in 2012 to help Robert Faiella, an underground Bitcoin exchanger in Florida, trade over $1 million in cash for bitcoins that were in turn sold to Silk Road customers. Faiella pleaded guilty in September to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20. Silk Road’s alleged operator, Ross Ulbricht, is scheduled to face trial on Jan. 5. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiracy and narcotics trafficking.
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