LocalBitcoins trader Theresa Lynn Tetley, better known as the “Bitcoin Maven,” has been sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, a $20,000 fine, and three years supervision after release for laundering bitcoin as proceeds of narcotics sales and for her role in running an illegal bitcoin-for-cash exchange, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. She was also ordered to give up the proceeds of her illegal activity, including $292,264 in cash, 25 gold bars, and 40 bitcoins.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real sentenced the 50-year-old Tetley, a one-time real estate investor and stockbroker, for engaging in illegal bitcoin transactions. Tetley pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of operating a money transmitting business that was unlicensed. The case was the Central District of California’s first such case.
Tetley failed to register as a money service business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) before offering a bitcoin-for-cash exchange service, nor did she follow anti-money-laundering practices including reporting specific types of transactions and customer due diligence, according to court documents.
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She exchanged a total of $6 million to $9.5 million for customers nationwide, and charged rates above FinCEN registered entities. She advertised the exchange service on peer-to-peer trading platform LocalBitcoins.
By operating an unregistered company, she helped an individual police suspect received bitcoin via illegal activities, including selling drugs on the dark web, according to court documents. She also exchanged BTC for cash with an undercover agent who told her the funds came from trafficking narcotics.
The IRS Criminal Investigation’s Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation. Puneet Kakkar, an assistant U.S. Attorney with the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section, prosecuted the case.
Law Enforcement Cracks Down On Violators
Earlier this year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested Morgan Rockcoons in Las Vegas and charged him with money laundering and operating an illegal money transmitting business. Rockcoons, CEO of Bitcoin Inc., exchanged 10 bitcoins for $10,000 with undercover police in 2017.
Last year, police charged Bradley Anthony Stetkiw with operating an illegal money transmission business after he sold $150,000 in bitcoins from 2013 to 2015, of which $56,000 were sold to undercover police.
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