New York federal prosecutors arrested two Florida men Tuesday who allegedly ran a phony company and controlled a New Jersey federal credit union to operate an unlicensed Internet Bitcoin exchange scheme for the purpose of laundering money for criminals.
Since late 2013, Anthony R. Murgio, 31, of Tampa and Yuri Lebedev, 37, of Jacksonville, operated Coin.mx, a Bitcoin exchange service, which violated federal anti-money laundering laws. Through Coin.mx, Murgio and Lebedev enabled their customers to exchange cash for Bitcoins, charging a fee for their service.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the two men exchanged cash for people whom they believed might be engaging in criminal activity.
In late 2014, Murgio obtained “beneficial control” of a small New Jersey federal credit union, which was processing more than $30 million a month, to process ACH transactions, according to court documents.
Murgio managed his control over the credit union by making a payment to a senior executive and installing individuals close to him, including Lebedev, on the credit union’s board of directors.
In emails between Murgio and the senior credit union executive, who was not identified, the executive admitted to Murgio that notwithstanding the executive’s titular role, “I’m going to say it…..it’s your credit union….I believe how I’ve operated from day one is it’s your credit union.”
In an email to Lebedev, Murgio described the New Jersey cooperative as a “small credit union 107 members no full time employees.” Murgio also invited Lebedev to become an advisory member on the board for which he would be paid $5,000.
Lebedev responded, “I am most definitely in! and “I won’t disappoint you[.]”
Federal prosecutors did not name the credit union.
Court documents also show the executive was becoming worried about the “tap dancing” he and others were doing to avoid raising concern among