Robert Faiella aka ‘BTCKing’ Sentenced to 4 Years for Enabling Silk Road Transactions

On January 20, a New York court handed a four-year prison sentence to a Florida Bitcoin exchanger who was selling virtual currency used to buy drugs on the Silk Road website.

Photo: Martien Uiterweerd/Flickr

Photo: Martien Uiterweerd/Flickr

Robert Faiella, 55, a former plumber living in Florida and a bitcoin exchanger and his accomplice Charlie Shrem, 25, were accused of letting more than $1 million in bitcoins reach the Silk Road website.

Faiella and Shrem’s case was a result of an investigation into the above mentioned web site which allowed to buy drugs anonymously. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the web site Silk Road, is being tried on Internet drug trafficking charges. His trial is occurring in the same courthouse where Faiella was sentenced.

Robert Faiella had been convicted in a tax case previously and had to forfeit $950,000 US. That amount of money, according to prosecutors, was intended to promote illegal activity. But as U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said, “he didn’t learn the lesson”.

In September, Robert Faiella pleaded guilty to running an illegal money transfer business. The Fort Myers Beach resident accepted the fact that he earned about $30,000 in commissions by running drug transactions. His co-defendant, Charles Shrem, pleaded guilty to assisting with the operation of an unlicensed money transferring business.

According to Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, from December 2011 to October 2013, Robert Faiella known as BTCKing was selling Bitcoins on Silk Road, the web site that accepted only payments in the virtual currency. Faiella exchanged money for Bitcoins using New York-located firm named BitInstant which was administrated by Shrem.

According to Faiella’s lawyer Timothy Treanor, the schemes to make money via the Internet were created by Faiella because he wanted to help his family even being confined to a bed.

“This is not a sophisticated man, Your Honour,” says Treanor. “Mr. Faiella is not a one-man crime wave.”

Alexander Wilson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, says that Robert Faiella had a lot of possibilities to end his criminal activity but he didn’t do it. Moreover, he continued even when Silk Road was shut down in 2013.

Robert Faiella told the judge before the announcement of the sentence that he had broken the law and was there to face the results of that.

On March 3, Robert Faiella aka BTCKing has to report to prison. His ally Shrem is sentenced to 2 years in prison.



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