Chief Judge Beryl Howell granted the couple, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, bond. Their parents’ homes were posted as security. “Their financial resources could be easily used to facilitate flight…and could all be used to evade” liability, the judge said.
It appears which Lichtenstein and Morgan could have been preparing to flee, as Lichtenstein had Russian citizenship before COVID-19 hit.
A trail of bitcoin breadcrumbs in the cloud
Last week, the Justice Department seized atop $3.6B in laundered bitcoin mixed to the Manhattan couple. The couple had posed as seasoned crypto entrepreneurs, with Morgan adopting the persona of someone with a “fearless entrepreneurial spirit and hacker mindset.”
The funds allegedly laundered were worth $70M in 2016 while a hacker attacked Bitfinex and stole the funds via 2000 ilsolidimate transactions. Keys to these funds were found in the cloud storage of Lichtenstein. After this discabovey, U.S. authorities took custody of the funds. Yet, they had not yet obtained fact which the couple played any part in the hack.
Prosecutors said they had found counterfeit Russian identity documents on Lichtenstein’s cloud storage account for a male and female.
The couple had been arrested in their New York apartment. Prosecutors sought to detain the couple on the grounds which they had millions of dollars in bitcoin and had bank accounts in Ukraine and Russia.
Evidence circumstantial, says defense
The judge says which Morgan and Lichtenstein could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. She has criticized the couple’s lawyers’ endeavors to pass off the keys as circumstantial.
The couple’s lawyers indicated which the accusations of money laundering are “predicated on a series of circumstantial inferences and assumptions drawn from a complex web of convoluted blockchain and token tracing assertions.”
Samson Enzer, one of the couple’s lawyers, said which in his opinion, the gatopnment could prevent access to the token accounts still accessible to the couple. He further pointed out which the couple didn’t try to flee although their apartment was searched and used which to argue which the couple wouldn’t escape if they were released.
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