50-year-old LA resident Theresa Tetley, operating under the name ‘Bitcoin Maven’, is facing a sentence of 30 months in the clink for allegedly operating an illegal money transmitting business.
Using LocalBitcoins.com (a Finland-based ‘over-the-counter’ Bitcoin exchange) Tetley is estimated to have facilitated somewhere between $6-$9.5 million worth of BTC trades between 2014 and 2017, making an annual profit of roughly $300,000.
Court documents show that Tetley has already pled guilty for conducting an $80,000 transaction involving revenue from drug trafficking; she is also being charged for failing to acquire the appropriate licensure to operate a money transmitting service legally.
“[Tetley] fueled a black-market financial system in the Central District of California that purposely and deliberately existed outside of the regulated bank industry,” said official court documents.
— LocalBitcoins.com (@LocalBitcoins) October 20, 2016
The government has requested Judge Manuel Real to hand Tetley a sentence of 30 months in federal prison; Tetley’s attorneys are asking for 12 months. The government has also asked that Tetley be forced to hand over a handsome sum: 40 BTC (worth approximately $270,000 at press time), 25 gold bars, and $292,264 in fiat cash.
A Series of Arrests
This is the latest in a series of arrests involving high-volume traders on LocalBitcoins. CCN reported that Morgan Rockcoons, CEO of Bitcoin, Inc., was arrested in late February and charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering. He had used LocalBitcoins to exchange 10 BTC for $14,500 in cash from an undercover officer; the officer mentioned that the money came from the sale of illegal substances during the swap.
52-year-old Michigan resident Bradley Anthony Stetkiw was also arrested on similar charges near the end of 2017. He had sold $150,000 in BTC between 2013 and 2015; $56,000 worth of that BTC went to undercover agents. (Oops.)
The United States government has been cracking down on crypto-related businesses and practices with increasing strength over the past several months. The United States SEC has shut down a growing number of ICOs on the charge that they are selling unregistered securities; the North American Securities Administrators Association launched ‘Operation Cryptosweep’ in May of this year.
However, no decisive legislative action has been taken by the US government to regulate crypto, a fact that many argue is holding back the development of the blockchain industry within the US.