An Assistant U.S. Attorney told a jury in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday that Trevor Gross, a pastor, has engaged in lies and corruption in the case of the “Unlawful Bitcoin Exchange” Coin.mx. The venture’s programmer Yuri Lebedev allegedly schemed to bribe the pastor to gain access to his charity Federal Credit Union (FCU).
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According to the Reuters news agency, the prosecutor said: “The bribes and lies had a simple, shared purpose: For the defendants Lebedev and Gross and their co-conspirators to make money”. However, Lebedev’s lawyer countered that “Yuri was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people,” and the pastor’s lawyer claimed that “he didn’t know anything about what they were up to”.
The authorities allege that in an effort to evade potential scrutiny about the nature of Coin.mx, Anthony Murgio, Lebedev and their co-conspirators took control of the FCU. Gross, who was the Chairman of the Board of the FCU, assisted their efforts in exchange for over $150,000 in bribes. With his assistance, Murgio installed his co-conspirators, including Lebedev, on the FCU’s Board of Directors and transferred Coin.mx’s banking operations to the FCU.
Following the investigation of a massive JPMorgan hack, the FBI and the US Secret Service filed charges against the operators of Coin.mx, an exchange headed by Anthony Murgio. According to the allegations, they operated Coin.mx in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and engaged in substantial efforts to evade the detection of their scheme by creating a phony front company called the “Collectables Club”. This way they sought to deceive the major financial institutions through which they operated into believing that their business was a forum for items such as stamps and sports memorabilia.
Over the course of the alleged scheme, which ran from 2013 to 2015, prosecutors said that through Coin.mx the conspirators allowed their customers to exchange cash for bitcoins, charging a fee for their service. In doing so, they did business with people that they knew might be engaging in criminal activity. Charges in the cases also included computer hacking, securities and wire fraud, identity theft, illegal internet gambling and conspiring to commit money laundering.
According to prosecutors, Coin.mx was owned by Gery Shalon, an Israeli accused of masterminding a hacking scheme with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein, and Maryland-born Joshua Samuel Aaron. Prosecutors said the men operated a criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies’ networks and stole personal data from more than 100 million people.