Bitcoin Exchange Coin.mx Founder’s Father Pleads Guilty to Obstruction

Readers may recall CCN’s previous reporting on Coin.mx, a Florida-based bitcoin exchange which shut down amid charges of money laundering and connections to a JP Morgan Chase hack. The case even roused a Federal judge to rule on whether or not Bitcoin is money, and according to him, it is. Now Anthony Murgio’s father, Mike Murgio, has struck a deal with prosecutors in regards to his charge of having bribed bank officials to conceal his son’s activity.

The deal, which was concluded last Thursday, has Murgio pleading guilty to a lesser charge of obstructing examination of a financial institution, a crime which could result in up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on January 27th.

Murgio was apparently an educator for the duration of his career and had some notability as having served on a local school board in Palm Beach, Florida. The deal does not get the prosecution Murgio’s testimony against his son, who is facing multiple more serious charges in relation to his unlicensed operation of Coin.mx and purchase of a federal credit union for the purpose.

Prosecutors allege that Anthony Murgio’s exchange willfully and knowingly exchange bitcoins for criminal enterprises and that they were involved in various ransomware schemes. This last bit may result from a misunderstanding about the nature of the exchange’s actual involvement – some ransomware authors indicated that Coin.mx would be a good place to acquire Bitcoin to pay them, but Coin.mx was certainly not alone in this respect and without further connection, the charge carries less weight.

Another interesting aspect to Anthony Murgio and Yuri Lebedev’s case is reporting from the New York Times which indicates the pair may also have been involved in a customer information breach of JP Morgan Chase. The eventual resolution of this investigation may actually yield a closer link from the exchange to ransomware deployment, painting a picture of a sort of closed-loop scam operation. First, we hack you based on information gathered through hacking, then we sell you a convenient way out of the debacle. If this is what prosecutors eventually intend to prove in court, the case could be quite interesting indeed.

For Mike Murgio’s part, his role overall appears to be minor. His lawyers have previously claimed that Murgio’s son was in fact the author of e-mails and the $150,000 sent to a New Jersey banker in order to acquire the federal credit union where Coin.mx was able to “wash” its dirty money. The viability of such a defense, especially in light of separate allegations of Anthony Murgio’s involvement in the breach of a major financial institution, may explain the offering of a lesser charge than bribery (obstruction).

The trial against Anthony Murgio and Yuri Lebedev is set to begin in New York federal court today.

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