Theresa Tetley aka Bitcoin Maven has been sentenced one year in prison by the U.S. District Judge Manual Reel for money laundering and running unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange. According to federal prosecutors, the former stockbroker from Marina del Rey operated an unregistered money transmission business and laundered Bitcoin (BTC) coming from the narcotics activity at least one time.
Federal Judge orders Tetley to surrender 40 Bitcoins
As per the report, the federal judge has ordered Tetley to surrender 40 Bitcoins, 25 gold bars, and nearly $3 million cash. Federal officials seized these assets last year when they found Tetley guilty of illegal money laundering during the investigation. The cover of Tetley was busted by DEA and IRS through a Bitcoin-for-cash string operation. In the operation, an undercover agent clearly revealed that his virtual currency was obtained through narcotics trafficking.
The 50-year-old former real estate investor was involved in transactions worth around $9.5 million. One of the transactions facilitated money laundering for a criminal involved in the illegal sale of cocaine, oxycodone and, marijuana on the dark web. The government argued that “[i]n light of the growth of the dark web and the use of digital currency, unlicensed exchangers provide an avenue of laundering for those who use digital currency for illicit purposes.”
According to the government, the business of Tetley supported black-market operations and deliberately kept them outside the banking regulations.
Tetley did not register her money services business
As a part of the scheme, Tetley offered Bitcoin to people against cash. Although on the first look the act does not look like a crime, however the smart stockbroker did all the activities off the books. She did not register her operations or the money services business. According to the Justice Department, Tetley failed to offer any “anti-money laundering mechanisms.”
Tetley carried out most of her transactions in person and provided cash for the digital currency. Interestingly, Tetley even posted advertisements for her services through localbitcoins.com under the name Bitcoin Maven and exchanged millions in the course of many years. Localbitcoins.com is the site that supports such exchanges.
Tetley was trapped when she started operating with an undercover agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency was behind her from 2016 and in a year and a half they built a solid case against her. As part of the plan, the administration introduced a second agent who posed as boyfriend of the first agent so that large transactions could be carried out with Tetley.