Six people including a novelty candidate for governor were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in New Hampshire on charges of participating in a conspiracy to launder money using virtual currency such as bitcoin.
According to an indictment handed down by a U.S. District Court grand jury, the group operated a business since 2016 that enabled customers to exchange over $10 million in “fiat currency” such as dollars for virtual currency in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations which, among other things, require reports to federal authorities about large financial transactions.
The indictment includes details of telephone calls, emails and wire transfers of funds dating back to April 2017.
Among those indicted was Nobody, formerly Richard Paul, 52, who ran under that name for the Republican nomination for governor, and Ian Freeman, 40, a leader of a group of libertarian activists known as Free Keene. Freeman has long been one of the state’s most public advocates for bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
The indictment says Freeman “knowingly instructed virtual currency customers to lie to financial institutions about the virtual currency transactions that customers were executing. Specifically, they instructed customers to conceal from financial institutions the fact that the customers were purchasing virtual currency, and in certain cases, to state falsely that payments were church donations or for the purpose of purchasing rare coins.”
The indictment also alleges that some members of the group opened bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities and misled financial institutions into believing their business was a religious organization receiving charitable contributions.
The indictment claims the group “advertised virtual currency for sale online through websites including LocalBitcoins.com. Second, they operated virtual currency automated teller machines, or kiosks, located in the District of New Hampshire.”
The indictment says that on Aug. 25, 2020, Freeman sold 1.54 bitcoin for $19,900 “represented by an authorized agent of the United States government to be proceeds of specified unlawful activity, that is, distribution of controlled substances.”
All six faced a magistrate on Tuesday afternoon.
Freeman is accused of wire fraud charges, money laundering, operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Freeman didn’t immediately respond to AP’s message seeking comment.
Also charged are Colleen Fordham, 60, of Alstead; Renee Spinella, 23, of Derry; Andrew Spinella, 35, of Derry; and Aria DiMezzo, 34, of Keene. DiMezzo, a transgender self-described anarchist, drew national attention by running unopposed for the GOP nomination for sheriff of Cheshire County.
The Keene Sentinel reported that the FBI raided two properties in that city Tuesday, including a house owned by Shire Free Church Holdings LLC.
The paper said the FBI removed a bitcoin ATM from My Campus Convenience at 152 Winchester Street.
Here’s a 2015 story of mine about a bitcoin ATM in what is now a Shirt Free Church Holdings building, and then was a store.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this article.