Heather Morgan’s attorneys are reportedly discussing a plea deal. The rapper and her husband are accused of laundering 120,000 BTC from Bitfinex.
One of the alleged culprits for having washed the bitcoin stolen from cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, could agree to a plea deal to avoid the spectacle of a public trial.
As reported CNBCa prosecutor told the court Monday that the Heather Morgan’s attorneys were “discussing a possible resolution of their criminal case” That would not require going to trial. Reports suggest the defendant, a female rapper known as ‘Razzlekhan’, could be offered a plea deal in the United States’ largest financial forfeiture case.
Morgan and her husband Ilya Lichtenstein were arrested in New York in February after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) seized 94,636 bitcoin in the possession of the couple. The cryptocurrency fortune, valued at around $5 billion today, was stolen from Bitfinex in a hack in 2016.
The duo now face charges of conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency from one of the largest cyberattacks in crypto history; although it is unknown if the couple was involved in the hacking of the platform.
Morgan appeared at a hearing Monday.
In accordance with CoinDeskAlthough prosecutors have charged both Morgan and Lichtenstein with involvement in the money laundering conspiracy, there appears to be less direct evidence connecting Morgan to the crime.
The private keys of the wallet that contains the stolen cryptos, and that were seized by federal agents in February, they were found in Lichtenstein’s cloud account. The defendant, a dual U.S.-Russian citizen, also possessed forged identity documents that the government says indicate the couple was preparing to flee the country to Russia or Ukraine.
During this week’s hearing, Morgan was again informed of her charges. She and Lichtenstein are accused of trying to hide the origin of the almost 120,000 bitcoin stolen in the hack Bitfinex from 6 years ago.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brown, a cybercrime prosecutor, asked Judge Robin Meriweather to suspend the so-called speedy trial clock for Morgan until then, he reported. CNBC. That clock requires prosecutors to try defendants in federal felony criminal cases within 70 days of an indictment being issued.
The prosecutor cited two reasons for the move. First, the amount of evidence that was shared with defense attorneys in the case, which Brown says is expected to be “complex and voluminous”. DHe said the evidence would include thousands of financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies and dollars over a five-year period, in dozens of accounts in the names of the defendants.
Following a raid on their Manhattan apartment last month, federal agents seized more than 50 electronic devices from Morgan and Lichtenstein; including USB drives and dozens of old mobile phones.
The second reason for suspending the clock cited by Brown, was “allow the parties to engage in discussions to resolve this case without going to trial”. Morgan’s attorneys did not oppose the motion.
Possible plea deal
The report of CNBC cited court documents in which prosecutors suggest Morgan’s lawyers are in talks for a settlement that would avoid a trial:
The Government and the defense attorney are in talks about a possible disposition of this matter.
ORa lawyer who spoke with CNBC and who read the document said the language suggests that “they are negotiating with the prosecution“. Gerald Lefcourtwho previously served as president of the National Association of Criminal Lawyers, said: “That is the typical language when the government and the defense inform the judge” that they are discussing a possible plea deal for a defendant.
He assured that in his experience “not typical” that prosecutors and defense attorneys begin plea negotiations as soon after a defendant’s arrest, as appears to be the case with Morgan. “But, you know, there are a lot of situations where the government surprisingly learns a lot […] And the bright defense attorneys see the writing on the wall”.
Morgan, a rapper who collaborated with reports for media such as Forbes, participated by phone from his home in Manhattan for the hearing in federal court in Washington, DC. The defendant was released from jail last Friday after posting $3 million bail. While she is kept under house arrest, her husband remains in jail and has been denied bail.
The story of both has been widely covered by the international news media due to the amazing portraits of the alleged criminals, who led a very active public life on social networks.
Article by Hannah Estefanía Pérez / DailyBitcoin
Image from Unsplash (Does not correspond to any of the people named in this article)
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