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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 23, 2019

Australian National Headed to Prison for Money Laundering through Bitcoin

DENVER – United States Attorney Jason Dunn announces that Emilio Testa, age 32, an Australian residing in Boulder, Colorado, will now be going to prison after being sentenced for money laundering with Bitcoin.  United States District Court Judge Raymond P. Moore sentenced Testa to serve one year and a day in prison, followed by twelve months on supervised release.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement as well as facts presented at yesterday's sentencing, beginning in approximately April 2016, Testa was in contact with undercover agents about the need to convert U.S. dollars into Bitcoin because he preferred not to use banks or deal with taxes.  On two occasions in 2016, the defendant and undercover agents conducted money exchanges.  Testa and the undercover agents remained in contact throughout 2016 and 2017.  Subsequently in March 2018, Testa contacted an undercover agent about selling Bitcoin for U.S. dollars.  During this meeting, Testa agreed to exchange Bitcoin for cash from narcotics proceeds.  He completed a second such transaction in May 2018, while understanding that the transaction would conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of money he believed to be the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.  

“Trying to hide criminal proceeds in Bitcoin?  We’re going to find you,” said United States Attorney Jason Dunn.  “Working in tandem with our federal partners, our prosecutors are leading the fight against cryptocurrency crimes.”

“Criminals may be sophisticated enough to use cryptocurrency but they’re not smart enough to stay out of jail, as this conviction shows,” said Steven Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Denver. “Our agents will continue to shine a light on criminals who use the dark web and Bitcoin to try and conceal their illegal activity.”

"Investigating cyber-enabled schemes is a top priority for IRS-CI and our Special Agents are experts in conducting complex financial investigations, including those committed on the ‘dark web’ with virtual currency,” said Acting IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Kevin Caramucci.  “This sentence shows those choosing to conduct illegal activities, including laundering narcotics proceeds, on the dark web are not hidden from law enforcement’s radar.”

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hetal J. Doshi.

CASE NO.             19-cr-00199-RM

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Topic(s): 
Cyber Crime
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated August 23, 2019