After several months of house arrest, Charlie Shrem will be self-surrendering at the Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania today. Early this month, the former CEO of the deactivated BitInstant exchange made this announcement on his personal website:
Keeping his head high while accepting the mistake he allegedly made, Charlie wrote: “While some distanced themselves, most stood by and fought. I owe my life to those people. Of course I don’t look for sympathy, I did the crime and I will do the time. They say those who stand by you in the bad times, deserve to be with you in the good times. Good times are coming and I look forward to it.”
On January 26, 2014, While returning to the US, after attending a convention in Amsterdam, Shrem was arrested at JFK Airport. Shrem along with Robert Faiella were accused of money laundering of $1 million worth of Bitcoins to help users of the Silk Road marketplace anonymously make illegal purchases. Shrem was also charged with failing to report suspicious banking activity and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Shrem was released after his family paid almost $1 million for bail and was placed under house arrest.
Despite being under electronic monitoring, Shrem has continued to do his part for the Bitcoin community (all in good faith). He has been consulting for Payza, Decentral.tv and others including Holiday Inn Hotels, for whom he piloted the Bitcoin payments mechanism. He has been attending meeting via Skype and even spoke, defending himself at the Texas Bitcoin Conference earlier this month. He stressed upon the fact that he unknowingly handled the money used for illegal transactions, and that he felt prosecutors were pursuing him because the traditional system fears bitcoin and they wanted to make an example out of him (something that can’t be denied).
This is a big win (not as big as they wanted it to be) for the US authorities who are constantly looking for ways to control cryptocurrencies and have resorted to sting operations to book and charge people involved in bitcoin related offences (even if it is a petty offence).
Shrem was indicted on April 10, 2014 on accusations of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering, conspiracy and willfully failing to file suspicious activity reports with banking authorities. On September 4, 2014, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of aiding and abetting unlicensed money transmission. On December 19, 2014, he was sentenced to two years in prison for indirectly helping to send $1 million to Silk Road.
After 14 months of house arrest, he will now be facing 2 years in prison. He made sure to announce, from his twitter account, that with a help of a group of people, he would be able to maintain contact from “the inside”.
“Well I’m off to prison now! Follow my twitter for tweets from the inside.”
For more information on how to support Charlie Shrem, please visit his personal website: charlieshrem.com