Six people with ties to the Free Keane movement have been arrested and charged with allegedly participating in illegal crypto currency trading. They operated their business of exchanging virtual currency through websites and operated virtual ATMs in New Hampshire, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
FBI property searches and charges against 6 individuals
The Department of Justice announced this week that it has charged six New Hampshire residents with crimes related to crypto currency trading. On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided several properties in Keene associated with members of the Free Keene movement and arrested six suspects.
The suspects are: Ian Freeman (formerly Ian Bernard), 40, from Keene; Collin Fordham, 60, from Alstead; Rene Spinella, 23, from Derry; Andrew Spinella, 35, from Derry; Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), 52, from Keene; Aria DiMezzo (formerly James Baker), 34, from Keene. DiMezzo is a transgender Satanist anarchist who has run as a Republican for Cheshire County Sheriff in 2020. Freeman and Nobody both ran for governor.
Freeman reportedly had access to $1.66 million in bitcoin and had $178,000 in cash in his safe when his home was raided by the FBI, prosecutors said Friday, adding that he also had access to gold, silver and possibly other cash and cryptocurrencies.
The indictment describes that since 2016.
The defendants operated a business that allowed customers to exchange over tens of millions of dollars of fiat currency for virtual currency by charging a fee for their services. They operated their virtual currency exchange business through websites and also operated virtual ATMs in New Hampshire.
The Free Keene Project describes itself as a focal point for free activism in New Hampshire. The group has long been a supporter of the cryptocurrency and established a Bitcoin Embassy in Keene in 2018.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants knowingly ran a cryptocurrency business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations, and notes that some of the defendants opened bank accounts in the name of allegedly religious organizations. These include the Shire Freedom Church, the Crypto Church, the Invisible Hand Church, and the Reformed Satanic Church.
According to the Department of Justice, some of the defendants subsequently went to great lengths to avoid discovery of their illegal virtual currency trading by avoiding answering questions from financial institutions about the nature of the activity and by leading financial institutions to believe that their illegal virtual currency trading was instead a religious organization receiving charitable donations.
Acting U.S. Attorney John G. Farley said the six were indicted and charged with participating in a conspiracy to profit from unlicensed money transfer businesses and other crimes. Freeman and DiMezzo also charge a fee for operating an unlicensed money transfer business.
Moreover, Freeman, Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella and Nobody are not charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Freeman is charged with money laundering and continuing to operate a business that commits financial crimes.
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