A U.S. court has charged Trevon Gross, the former chairman of a Jackson, N.J. federal credit union, with accepting $150,000 in bribes to turn the credit union’s functions over to the operators of Coin.mx, an illegal bitcoin exchange, according to NJ.com, a New Jersey news site.
The office of Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Gross surrendered to the FBI today. Gross faces one count of corruptly accepting payments as an officer of a financial institution, which has a maximum sentence of 30 years in jail, according to Bharara’s office.
Gross, the former chairman of the Helping Other People Excel Federal Credit Union, is listed as the pastor of Hope Cathedral in Jackson, N.J. on that organization’s website.
Gross conspired with Anthony Murgio, who operated Coin.mx, an unlicensed bitcoin exchange, and Yuri Lebedev, the exchange’s computer operations manager to fund the exchange’s operations, according to court records.
Murgio in November of 2015 pleaded not guilty to money laundering in a Manhattan court room Tuesday, according to CCN. Murgio also pleaded not guilty to running an illegal bitcoin exchange, wire fraud and conspiracy.
From October 2013 to July 2015, Coin.mx exchanged millions of dollars for bitcoins from U.S. customers, according to the indictment. Murgio and the others miscoded debit and credit card transactions and limited the amount of dollars of individual transactions to trick banks into permitting the transactions to complete.
Lebedev and Murgio also operated a front business to launder the exchange’s proceeds, the indictment said.
To evade scrutiny, Lebedev and Murgio gained control of the credit union by bribing Gross, who helped them get onto the credit union’s board of directors, the indictment said.
They ran the credit union as a captive bank for Coin.mx until early 2015 at least, the indictment noted.
The National Credit Union Administrators forced the credit union to halt operations when it discovered the payment processing for bitcoins. The organization liquidated the credit union on Nov. 20. The credit union had assets of $626,529 and served 110 members in 2015.
Authorities arrested Lebedev and Murgio on July 21 and charged them with one count of conspiracy to make payments corruptly to an officer of a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Murgio also is charged with corruptly making payments to a financial institution officer, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 30 years, the indictment said.
The indictment also noted that Murgio has been charged with one count of conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of operating and one count of operating such a business, each of which has a maximum five-year prison sentence; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each carrying a maximum 20-year prison sentence; and one count of money laundering carrying a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
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