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The United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California has announced that a 50-year-old woman known as the “Bitcoin Maven” was sentenced on July 9 to one year and one day in federal prison and three years of supervised release for laundering bitcoin related to narcotics sales. The defendant, Theresa Lynn Tetley, was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
Tetley pleaded guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of money laundering. She admitted to operating an unlicensed bitcoin-for-cash exchange business and laundering bitcoin that was represented to be proceeds of narcotics activity.
Tetley, who was only identified by authorities as a resident of Southern California, is a former stockbroker and real estate investor. United States District Judge Manuel L. Real also ordered Tetley to forfeit 40 Bitcoin, $292,264 in cash and 25 gold bars that were proceeds of illegal activity.
The government’s case against the defendant is the first of this kind in the Central District of California. According to court documents, Tetley offered bitcoin-for-cash exchange services without registering as a money services business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and without implementing anti-money laundering mechanisms such as customer due diligence and reporting certain transactions as required by businesses. Tetley advertised on localbitcoins.com and exchanged between $6 and $9.5 million for customers throughout the country, charging rates higher than institutions that were registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
As a result of operating an unregistered business, Tetley facilitated laundering for one individual who is suspected of receiving bitcoin from unlawful activity including sales of drugs on the dark web. Tetley also exchanged a bitcoin-for-cash transaction for an undercover agent who claimed his bitcoin were the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.
The investigation into Tetley was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS Criminal Investigation.
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