The former Ethereum Foundation developer was indicted for his participation in a cryptocurrency conference held in North Korea in 2019.
A federal case against Virgil Griffith has come to an end this Tuesday, after a court in the United States imposed a severe sentence on the developer.
As reviewed CoinDeska court in the Southern District of New York has sentenced Griffith to 63 months (5.25 years) in prison and has imposed a $100,000 fine for conspiracy with North Korea. US District Judge Kevin Castel handed down the sentence, following the guidelines of the prosecution and the recommendations of the Department of Probation.
The sentencing comes nearly seven months after Griffith pleaded guilty. as reported DailyBitcointhe former developer of the Ethereum Foundation was arrested on conspiracy charges after taking part in a conference in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in 2019, where he spoke about the use of cryptocurrencies to evade economic sanctions.
At that time, heUS prosecutors they accused Griffith to teach North Koreans how to evade sanctionswhich they argued represented a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). In September 2021, and after two years of legal dispute, Griffith accepted the federal charges against him.
Griffith has had a tough time in prison.
The defendant’s lawyers agreed with prosecutors on a sentence within a range of 63 to 78 months, roughly five to 6.5 years, according to CoinDesk, although the maximum sentence was 20 years. The medium adds that Griffith has already spent approximately two years in custody, although in that time he was released on bail for 14 months. The court will count the remaining 10 months as time served.
The publication, which did extensive coverage of Tuesday’s hearing, noted that prior to sentencing, Griffith’s attorneys addressed the court with final comments. Possibly appealing to the compassion of the judge, they cited harsh prison conditions where the programmer has been detained and they mentioned his psychological disorders.
According to the outlet, Brian Klein, Griffith’s lead attorney, said the former developer has faced “several really difficult and inhumane conditions” at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn. He has lived through prolonged solitary quarantines due to COVID-19 outbreaks, no family visits, limited access to blankets and warm clothing, and even being forced to use his sink as a toilet, he said. He also indicated that the number of daily meals Griffith has been limited to two or fewerand that generally these are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches due to gang control of MDC.
Klein also informed Judge Castel of a recent psychological evaluation of Griffith, which apparently found that he suffered from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). His defense said that the disorders explained his “obsession” with North Korea and his disregard for the warnings of those who urged him not to travel to the country.
For his part, his own Griffith told the court that he had spent time in prison thinking about how “genuinely, arrogantly and wrongly” He thought that “knew more“, that his loved ones who warned him not to go to North Korea.
I have learned my lesson. I am still deeply ashamed of being here and of what I have done.
The severity of the sentence sends a message
However, the court did not seem moved by these arguments. According to the report, Castel said the defendant had a clear intention when he went to North Korea to educate people about how to circumvent sanctions.
The judge read a series of damning text messages and emails from Griffith, in which the defendant admits to sharing information with North Korea for the express purpose of helping Kim Jong-Un’s repressive regime evade sanctions. Castel also presented a photo of Griffith as evidence showing him at the 2019 conference, wearing traditional North Korean dress and standing smiling in front of a blackboard that reads “No penalties!“.
“What you see here is intentionality…and a desire to educate people on how to evade sanctions“, said. “The fact is that Virgil Griffith…was hoping to come home […] like a crypto hero. Being admired and praised for standing up to government sanctions, for your bravery and nobilitya”, added the judge later.
In accordance with CoinDeskthe judge’s speech did mention of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, as well as the recent sanctions of the United States against that country as an argument to justify a severe sentence to deter both Griffith and “others in similar situations” of future violations of US sanctions.
Article by Hannah Estefanía Pérez / DailyBitcoin
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