A Florida man was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for running a bitcoin exchange that is suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud.
Anthony Murgio, 33, admitted in January that he ran Coin.mx for Gery Shalon, the self-described founder of a sprawling criminal enterprise that hacked at least nine companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co., E*Trade Financial Corp. and Dow Jones & Co. Prosecutors said the unregistered business sold bitcoins that were used in illegal online transactions and as payment in ransomware attacks.
“I screwed up badly and made serious mistakes and misjudgments,” a weeping Murgio told U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan at his sentencing in Manhattan Tuesday.
Nathan set a Sept. 1 hearing to determine the amount of forfeiture, fines and restitution Murgio must pay. He remains free on bail.
Shalon’s global network allegedly stole information on more than 100 million customers of banks and publishing firms and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds from pump-and-dump stock scams and online gambling. Murgio was among those accused of trading cash for bitcoins on behalf of ransomware victims as well as helping to take over a New Jersey credit union that sought to hide transactions from law enforcement and banking authorities.
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Even with the 5 1/2-year sentence, Murgio will serve less time than prosecutors wanted. He pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy, for which prosecutors sought a term of 10 years to 12 years and seven months behind bars. Nathan declined to follow the recommended sentencing guidelines and ordered a prison stay that was half as long.
Murgio’s father, Michael, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to obstruct the examination of a federal financial institution and received one year of probation. Michael Murgio and other members of his family were in the courtroom as Anthony was sentenced.
Shalon and his alleged top lieutenant, Ziv Orenstein, were arrested at their homes in Israel in July 2015 and extradited to the U.S. last year. They have pleaded not guilty. An American who allegedly conspired with them, Joshua Aaron, who attended Florida State University with Anthony Murgio, was detained by Russian authorities in 2015 and returned to the U.S. in December to face charges.
The case is U.S. v. Murgio, 15-cr-00769, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)