Bitcoin crusader Charlie Shrem pled guilty in court yesterday to charges related to Silk Road, the Deep Web drug market. The 24-year-old sounded much less defiant than he had just earlier this week. "I knew that what I was doing was wrong," he told the court, "I am pleading guilty because I am guilty."
Shrem, who once said, "Bitcoin is just cash with wings," worked out a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in order to avoid 30 years of jail time for converting dollars to Bitcoin so they could spent on Silk Road. His statement in court on Thursday sounds almost contrite compared to what Shrem told reporters this past weekend:
"They want a guilty plea on their books, and that's what they're going to get," Mr. Shrem said on Saturday from his parents' home in Brooklyn. "They got a Bitcoiner."
Along with pleading guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, Shrem (on the right in the photo above) agreed to forfeit $950,000 to the government as a condition of the deal. His co-conspirator Robert Faiella also pled guilty and forfeited $950,000. Shrem's company BitInstant raised $1.5 million in seed financing from the Winklevoss twins' ill-fated trip down crypto-currency lane.
Shrem and Faiella's plea bargains provide for jail terms of up to 60 months. The guidelines also include a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of money derived from the crime or double the loss to the victim, whichever is greatest, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Though he had been under house arrest at his parents' house in Brooklyn, he has continued to speak publicly in support of Bitcoin. He has also been working for Payza, an online platform for sending and receiving the coins.
Mr. Shrem's lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said after the court appearance that Mr. Shrem had every intention of staying involved with Bitcoin. "Charlie Shrem is on a path to making Bitcoin a more accepted and useful currency," he said. "If God smiles on him, hopefully he will be back in the Bitcoin world."
Roger Ver, mentioned above, was Shrem's former director of marketing at BitInstant. Ver, who is known to insiders at Bitcoin Jesus, now lives in Tokyo where he can promote the cryptocurrency with impunity.
[Image via Associated Press]