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Former Ethereum Dev Virgil Griffith Argues He’s A “Zero-Point” Offender to Knock a Year Off Sentence

Last Updated April 18, 2024 5:33 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated April 18, 2024 5:33 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Virgil Griffith is facing 63 months in prison and 3 years supervised release.
  • He is seeking to have this reduced by a year due to having zero prior criminal history.
  • Griffith is also facing a 10-year export privilege ban

In April 2022 Virgil Griffith was found guilty of bypassing U.S. sanctions by illegally exporting services to North Korea. He was convicted for attending a blockchain conference in Pyongyang and giving a presentation on blockchain in 2019.

He is now seeking to reduce his sentence by 12 months based on recent amendments to U.S. sentencing guidelines.

Griffith in North Korea

Prosecutors accused Griffith of participating in an April 2019 Pyongyang conference  where he gave speeches about the “potential money laundering and sanction evasion applications” of crypto.

Reportedly, Griffith had been warned by the FBI  to cease his North Korea-related activities, which he seemingly ignored. Following this, he was arrested and convicted after pleading guilty.

This committed  him to a 63-month prison stretch alongside a $100,000 fine.

The Appeal

Griffith’s attorney, Glen Garrett McGorty, wrote a letter  to Judge Kevin Castel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 17, 2024, to appeal for a reduction in his sentence.

The plea is founded on newly enacted revisions to U.S. sentencing guidelines that can offer a “two-point” reduction in offense level for particular “zero-point” offenders. Griffith, who has no former criminal history, could benefit from this reduction despite already pleading guilty.

The attorney writes :

“The defense respectfully requests the opportunity to provide the Court with updated information which would counsel toward a sentence no greater than the lowest end of the new Guidelines range – 51 months – if not lower,”

In this plea, Griffiths’s defense team also urged the court to seek a revised pre-sentence investigation report and reschedule a sentencing hearing from the U.S. Probation Office.

Zero Point Offender

During the first year of his sentence, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a 10-year export privilege ban on Griffith in May 2023. This bars him from transacting commodities, software, or technologies that fall under U.S. export regulations.

Should Griffith’s appeal work and the courts find he falls into the “zero point” offender category, he’ll see his offense level dropped from 26 to 24, and have a fifth of his sentence shaved off.

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