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Pastor Sentenced to Five Years for Aiding An Illegal Bitcoin Exchange

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM
Rebecca Campbell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:01 PM

A New Jersey pastor has been sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of attempting to aid an illegal bitcoin exchange evade scrutiny from banks and regulators.

Trevon Gross, 47, was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, reports Reuters . He was also ordered to pay a $12,000 fine.

The bitcoin exchange involved in the case was Coin.mx. Back in March 2016 it was reported that Gross, the former chairman of a now-defunct Jackson, N.J. federal credit union, was charged with accepting $150,000 in bribes from the bitcoin exchange to turn the credit union’s functions over to the operators of Coin.mx.

According to court records, Gross is alleged to have conspired with Anthony Murgio, who operated Coin.mx and Yuri Lebedev, the exchange’s computer operations manager, to fund the exchange’s operations. In November 2015, Murgio had initially pleaded not guilty to money laundering in a Manhattan court room.

From October 2013 to July 2015, the illegal bitcoin exchange exchanged millions of dollars for bitcoins from U.S. customers. Reports suggest that Murgio and others miscoded debit and credit card transactions and then limiting the amount of dollars of individual transactions to trick banks into completing the transactions.

Lebedev and Murgio also operated a front business to launder the exchange’s proceeds, called the Collectables Club.

However, in order to evade scrutiny, Lebedev and Murgio took control of the credit union by supplying Gross with handsome bribes.

Aside from this, Coin.mx has also been linked to a security breach at JPMorgan, which took place in 2014 that exposed the accounts of 100 million people. The result of which led to charges against nine people. Murgio, Lebedev and Gross were not accused of hacking, but Gary Shalon, who owned Coin.mx, is alleged to have been behind it.

According to Reuters, Shalon, along with Joshua Samuel Aaron, undertook cyberattacks that resulted in the theft of information from 100 million people. Prosecutors says that the two carried out the hacks to bolster additional schemes with Ziv Orenstein. These included pumping up stock prices with promotional emails.

Shalon, Aaron and Orenstein have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.

Accused of working through a front called Collectables Club, Lebedev was sentenced to 16 months at the end of October. In January, Murgio pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five and a half years in June. Gross’s sentencing to five years in prison is the latest from the Coin.mx scandal.

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