Cryptocurrency has never been favoured or supported by the mainstream media, but this week's news that an LA trader is facing jail time for their trading of Bitcoin, one of the biggest worldwide digital currencies, is bringing strange new attention to this new financial frontier.
Facing over two years in jail, prosecutors have argued that the Los Angeles-based Bitcoin trader has been illegally operating a money transmitting business, supposedly against California law. The woman in question was making over $300,000 a year by trading Bitcoin on a specialised website from 2014 to 2017 and ultimately made trades worth over $6 million over that short period of time. Dealing in such high numbers consistently brought the attention of Los Angeles law enforcement.
Theresa Tetley, a 50-year-old woman and an unlikely advocate of the cryptocurrency advancement, had already pleaded guilty to a number of alternative charges surrounding the operation of an unregistered transmission business and exchanging that made upwards of $70,000 in just one exchange. According to official court documents, these charges had also been connected to drug crimes and trafficking. This has pushed the sentence closer to two years, however defence attorneys are looking to lower the sentence to one year.
Law enforcement seized Tetley's assets - the financial benefit was worth over $500,000 - as well as a number of solid gold bars, which detectives gained access to in March of this year. Prosecutors are hoping to gain access to this as the trial continues on. The Prosecutor's Office said in official documents that these activities were closely linked to a black-market financial system that was deliberately far outside the regulated banks and financial services of the state of California.
There have been little to no prosecuted crimes in the cryptocurrency market since its boom in the 21st century, and this is thought to be the first of its kind in Southern California, giving no precedent as to the proceedings of this case. However, similar cases have been seen in the United States - a Detroit man was sentenced last year to one year in prison following crypto transactions of up to $2.4 million, and a father and son duo were sentenced to 106 months on similar charges related to money laundering and narcotics trafficking.