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Bitcoin Exchange Bribery Case Ends With 5-Year Jail Sentence

A New Jersey pastor convicted of accepting bribes from the now-defunct bitcoin exchange Coin.mx has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Trevon Gross was charged in March 2016, with federal prosecutors alleging that the pastor took bribes from those behind Coin.mx. In exchange, prosecutors said, Gross helped the firm use the Hope Federal Credit Union (which was later closed down by regulators) to facilitate international payments.

Gross, whose trial began in February, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan on Monday.

As previously reported, Coin.mx was a Florida-based exchange that was shuttered in mid-2015 after its two operators, Anthony Murgio and Yuri Lebedev, were arrested and charged with running an unlawful money services business. Coin.mx was accused of obscuring the nature of its business by operating as a so-called “Collectible’s Club.”

The U.S. government later tied the exchange to a broader crime ring that targeted firms like J.P. Morgan with cyberattacks.

Gross was ultimately convicted in March along with Lebedev, who himself was sentenced to 16 months in prison last week. Murgio was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in June.

According to Reuters, Gross was also handed a $12,000 fine.

Justice statue image via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Exchange Operator Given 16-Month Prison Sentence

One of the operators of the now-defunct bitcoin exchange Coin.mx has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.

According to a Reuters report, Florida-based software engineer Yuri Lebedev had been found guilty of helping run the unlicensed bitcoin exchange. His sentencing – handed down by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan – came more than two years after he was initially arrested and charged with violating U.S. money laundering statutes.

Along with Lebedev, Pastor Trevon Gross was convicted in March, though in the case of Gross, he was charged with bribery in connection with a now-shuttered New Jersey credit union that was allegedly used to channel funds from Coin.mx overseas.

According to the prosecutors in the case, Lebedev helped arrange bribes to Gross, including $150,000 in donations to his church. Gross is expected to be sentenced later this month.

Bloomberg reports that Judge Nathan said Lebedev used his “impressive technology skills” in order to avoid detection. Lebedev’s attorney, Eric Creizman, described him in court as an “unlikely criminal defendant.”

The Florida-based bitcoin exchange Coin.mx was operated as a so-called “Collectibles Club” in order to obscure its exchange activities. Prosecutors had previously tied the exchange to a broader cybercrime enterprise, arguing that Coin.mx served as as a clearing house for funds derived from various criminal activities including a hack on JPMorgan Chase.

Another Coin.mx operator, Anthony Murgio, was arrested and charged, along with Lebedev, in 2015. Murgio pled guilty earlier this year on three charges, including one count of wilfull failure to file a suspicious activity report, and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison in June.

Man in Jail image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.