Christmas came early! Just days before the start of the Crypto Six trial, federal prosecutors have revealed they will be dropping the supermajority of counts in their ridiculous case against me. Gone are all twelve of the “wire fraud” charges, three “money laundering” charges, “conspiracy to commit bank fraud & wire fraud”, and most importantly the charge with the ten-year mandatory minimum sentence, the “kingpin” charge of “continuing financial crimes enterprise”. All gone!
If you’ve been paying attention to the case for the last twenty months, you may recall the big deal the prosecutors made to try to keep me in jail until trial, claiming I am a “sophisticated cyber criminal” and a “danger to the community”. Prior to the charges being dropped, my bail conditions had loosed to where I am no longer wearing a tracking anklet. Now that those charges are gone, when we recently asked to remove the government spyware from my computer and phone, the prosecutors had no objection. Apparently, I’m no longer the scary things they told the judge and press that I was.
The remaining charges that are slated for trial are:
- Conspiracy to Operate Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business
- Operation of Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business
- Money Laundering
- Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering
- Attempt to Evade or Defeat Tax (four counts for 2016-2019)
While this is assuredly good news, as it reduces the maximum time I could spend in prison from 420+ years to 70 years, it’s really sad news for my three friends who took plea deals on the “wire fraud” charges. Had they known the charge they pled to would eventually be dropped, they surely wouldn’t have taken the raw “deal”. Now they are saddled with felony convictions for the rest of their lives for something that sounds really bad. The reality is, the accusations were simply that they’d lied to a bank, and that it was not even to try to scam the bank out of money, but only to do things like keep an account open. However no one who checks their record is going to ask them for details. They’ll just see “wire fraud” and think they are dealing with a fraudster, when in fact no one was defrauded. None of the banks lost anything and no restitution was ordered during sentencing for any of the three. None of them committed fraud, but they took the plea likely out of fear – the reason most people take a plea – because the feds know how to scare people.
They stack a ton of charges against you, then threaten to stack even more if you don’t tap out. A few years of probation and a felony starts looking really good compared to thirty years in prison, so it’s understandable why people will take a plea, even though they didn’t actually commit the crime of which they are accused. The prosecutors love it as they rack up conviction after conviction, ruining innocent peoples’ lives and bolstering the prosecutors’ careers. Plus, they never have to bother preparing for and going to trial. It’s super easy for them and it almost always works.
For a long time, I have been an advocate of “Don’t Take the Plea Deal“. ESPECIALLY if you didn’t actually do anything wrong. It is certainly risky and scary to go up against the federal behemoth. They have unlimited resources to throw at destroying you. However, if you take the first plea, you will never even get to see what kind of case they have against you. It might be a really crappy case and they may have made critical errors. There’s also a good chance of a better plea offer coming later on, but if you take the first plea, you’ll never find out. Of course, you have to do what you feel is right for you, and I never blame anyone for taking a plea if they feel that is best.
However, long term, people taking plea deals just empowers the state. If more people stood up and demanded their right to a trial, even on things as simple as a speeding or parking ticket, the “justice” system would not be able to handle the case load and they would likely just drop charges all together.
While I am happy to see the bulk of the charges in my case go away, I’m sad for my friends who were intimidated into wrongful convictions for vicitmless “crimes” on charges that would likely have been dropped anyway. The Crypto Six trial begins with jury selection on Tuesday, Dec 6th at Federal Court Church in Concord, NH. For more background on the case, visit TheCryptoSix.com.