A Florida man was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for helping criminals process millions of dollars in illegal bitcoin transactions.
According to AP News, Anthony Murgio of Tampa pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy charges for enticing friends and family members to help him operate an illegal money exchange business.
Murgio, his father and another man admitted to operating a fake Florida-based business called the Collectables Club, which allowed criminals to buy bitcoins to launder their money under the pretense they were buying stamps and sports memorabilia. Prosecutors said Murgio processed more than $10 million in illegal bitcoin transactions from April 2013 through July 2015. Murgio's father also pleaded guilty in the scheme.
U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan in Manhattan sentenced Murgio for his “pyramid of lies,” and noted that his victims included a federal credit union that served a low-income community in Lakewood, N.J.
The 110-member credit union was forced into liquidation after 36 years after Murgio and his friends made $162,000 in “donations” and “consulting fees” to a local church in a corrupt deal to take control of the credit union and process more than $60 million in transactions for their illegal activities.
The judge called Murgio’s activities “dangerous and destructive” criminal conduct. “Mr. Murgio led his co-conspirators in a pyramid of lies,” the judge said.
Murgio sobbed in court, admitting that he “screwed up badly,” and apologized to his victims, including family and friends who were sitting in the first row of the courtroom.
“I’m sorry for all the damage I’ve caused to so many people,” Murgio said. “I put myself above the law. Money comes and goes. The satisfaction you get from helping somebody’s life is not even in the same universe as making $50,000 in a transaction.”
Prosecutors had requested Murgio serve more than a decade in prison.