Founder of BitInstant Charlie Shrem Released from Prison

In his first blog post as a free man, Charlie Shrem writes that he was released sometime in June and is living temporarily in southern Pennsylvania with his girlfriend. Shrem, the CEO of the now-defunct BitInstant, spent almost a year and a half inside Lewsiburg Federal Prison Camp on a 24 month sentence. Although he expected to serve less than a year, he still negated the 24 month potential – and the even greater 20-30 years he was initially facing.

At the time of his arrest, the 25-year-old was both the CEO of BitInstant and an original member of the Bitcoin Foundation. He was also deeply involved in the Bitcoin community and wanted to protect and promote the digital currency.

In January 2014, Shrem was arrested at JFK airport in New York where he was accused of knowingly allowing a user of the Silk Road marketplace trade Bitcoin for USD through his exchange service, BitInstant. He was charged with money laundering, failing to report suspicious banking activity, and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Realistically, all he was doing doing was allowing a Silk Road member, BTCKing, to convert Bitcoin to USD. But, since money-laundering falls under the Patriot Act, he could have faced at least 30 years.

In April he was indicted on the same accusations of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and willfully failing to file suspicious activity reports with banking authorities, to which he pleaded guilty and forfeited $950,000 which resulted in less harsh sentencing. Some believe the money laundering charges were due, in part, to Shrem’s case being so close to the Silk Road investigation. With the money laundering charges dropped, his lawyer said Shrem was proven to be “one step more removed” from the underground marketplace, which he described as “the heartland of illegal conduct”.

His post:

A few weeks ago I was released from Lewisburg FPC. I want to thank the hundreds of people who wrote, sent books, money, magazines, and their support. There are no words to describe my appreciation and affection to all of you. Thank you so much.

Currently I’m home in southern Pennsylvania where Courtney and I have relocated temporarily. We will spend the summer months enjoying the outdoors, good food, family, friends and the small things that I missed while I was away, and at the same time transition back into normal life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back home.

I’m excited to move forward onto new projects and looking forward to seeing what everyone has been working on!

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to say hello!


Quick note: I am still under the same communication requirements established for my incarceration and cannot grant media interviews at this time.

He has a 2-4 years of government supervision until he’s a completely free man, but news of his release is welcoming to many ears.

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