CEO of Bitcoin, Inc., Morgan Rockcoons was arrested by officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering according to the court records.
According to those records, in December 2017 Rockoons allegedly exchanged 10 Bitcoins (Worth $9,000) at that time for $14,500 in cash with an undercover law enforcement officer. The officer mentioned that the cash came from the manufacture and sales of “Hash Oil” which is a banned substance in the United States.
Since Rockoons knew the cash was dirty and helped the law enforcement officer acquire bitcoins for it, he was accused of laundering the money. Also, he was charged with running an unlicensed money transmitting business since the transaction was more than $10,000. Legitimate money transmitters are required to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (FinCEN) by law if they’re facilitating transmits over $10,000, and Rockoons wasn’t registered.
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A different side to the story
Rockoons, on the other hand, had an entirely different story in a series of tweets. He claims the law enforcement official said the money was for buying a medicinal hash machine and not that it was dirty money. Also, he claims the transaction was perfectly legal since the transaction took place in California and Cannabis is legal for both medicinal and recreational use in the state.
On Friday Feb 9, I was arrested in my home by Department Of Homeland Security over a #Bitcoin transaction from nov 2016 and am released under a personal recognizance bond. I am being charged with:
18 USC 1956 – Money Laundering Instrumenthttps://t.co/4w7NJIi4jw
Asset Forfeit pic.twitter.com/5kINtbxH17
— Morgan (@NODEfather) 14 February 2018
Rockoons said the buyer found him through LocalBitcoins, which is a peer-to-peer exchange for buyers and sellers to meet and transact Bitcoins. Then, the buyer insisted on paying him $14,500 for $9,000 worth Bitcoins to entrap him. So he received the money and sent Bitcoins worth less than $10,000 which he claims is still legal.
Rockoons insists that he never does any transaction above $10,000 and that he only did this one since he was in need of cash. He also claimed that the money was paid by cash in an envelope and the person had only contacted him through text messages.
Morgan Rockoons was locked up in jail for five days before he was released. He is fighting the charges in court and has taken to Twitter to ask donations for his legal fees which he expects to be around $150,000 – $300,000. He’s been trying to appeal to the community, by calling his case an attack on Bitcoin. He’s already received some donation, and he intends to pay his lawyers in Bitcoin.
Though Rockoons took to Twitter to tell his side of the story, not everyone is buying it. Some people feel he should’ve known something was wrong here when someone offered to pay him $14,500 for Bitcoins worth just $9,000.
This is not the first time a US law-enforcement agency has tried entrapping LocalBitcoin sellers. In fact, in October last year, a Michigan man was imprisoned for selling Bitcoins worth more than $56,000 to law enforcement agents. The only difference here is that Rockoons denies any wrongdoing and is determined to fight it out in the court.