In the case of a high-tech crime California, a federal judge is allowing a defendant to pay his bail with cryptocurrency. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley set the amount at $750,000 in bitcoin or another form of digital currency, the Daily Post reported.
The defendant, Martin Marsich, was arrested at the San Fransisco International Airport for allegedly hacking into gaming company Electronic Arts, and was ordered by Corley to pay the bail during a court appearance on Thursday (Aug. 16). The move may not be unprecedented: Abraham Simmons, a U.S. assistant district attorney, told the Post he believed this case was not the only time a judge has let a defendant pay bail with cryptocurrency. Judges can have defendants pay bail with all sorts of assets.
“It really is quite broad,” Simmons said. “The judge could order just about anything. The objective is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later.”
The news comes as the federal government planned to put nearly 4,000 bitcoins on the auction block — worth approximately $50 million at the time — seized in criminal, civil and administrative cases, BGR reported in January. The U.S. Marshals Service said it would hold an auction in February to dispose of the bitcoins.
Bitcoin auctions are fairly routine for the service, with the government auctioning off bitcoins seized from Silk Road-related cases in 2016, for example. But the volatility in bitcoin prices at the time (and even today) meant that the Feds were, in theory, gambling in cryptocurrency. Due to massive price swings, the timing of the auction could have a major impact on how much money the government is able to recover. Yet, for bidders, the simple nature of the auction and the massive quantity of coins could present an opportunity to make loads of cash.