Charlie Shrem Does AMA from Federal Prison in Pennsylvania

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by Eugenia Romanenko · 3 min read
Charlie Shrem Does AMA from Federal Prison in Pennsylvania
Charlie Shrem is founder of the Bitcoin Foundation (Vice-Chairman 2012 to 2014), and worked on the standardization, protection and promotion of Bitcoin. In December 2014 he was sentenced for laundering money to the Silk Road (marketplace) and is currently an inmate in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Photo: Charlie Shrem/Twitter

Charlie Shrem, former BitInstant CEO, held an AMA from his prison, Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania.

Almost a year ago, Bitcoin advocate, entrepreneur, former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and the founder of the Bitcoin exchange Bitinstant, Charlie Shrem was sentenced to two years in prison for indirectly helping to send $1 million in the digital currency to the Internet black-market bazaar Silk Road.

“I screwed up. The bitcoin community, they’re scared and there is no money laundering going on any more. They’re terrified. Bitcoin is my baby, it’s my whole world and my whole life, it’s what I was put on this earth to do. I need to be out there. If your honor grants me that, I can be out there in the world, making sure that people don’t do the same stupid things that I did,” said Mr. Shrem to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

“[Shrem] was knowingly, willfully, and to some extent excitedly, even passionately involved in activity that he knew was a serious violation of the law and that was promoting the evil business of trafficking in drugs,” Judge Rakoff commented.

However, Shrem stays in touch with the community and helds an AMA from Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania. He wrote at

Hi Everyone,

I’m Charlie Shrem, Bitcoin pioneer, founder of Bitinstant, and currently serving time in federal prison for “operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering conspiracy and willfully failing to file suspicious activity reports with banking authorities.”

Formal Complaint

I’ll be conducting this AMA using the federal prison email system.

The system automatically delays incoming and outgoing messages by 90 minutes, so the absolute earliest I can reply to each question would be three hours.

I will be at my computer answering these questions every weekday from 1:30 – 3:30pm EST, and nearly all day on the weekends.

Obviously I’m not writing all of this directly myself, but direct quotes of my own words will be in italics.

The government will be monitoring all of my communications, so it is possible that I won’t be allowed to answer some of your questions, but I will do my best!

Please post your questions below and we will keep going as long as it takes.

Thank you all!

Forum users ask various and interesting questions. For example, here’s the answer to the question “What is the most important lesson you have learned from your prison experience?”:

“So far I’ve learnt a few important things. I’ve learnt that I don’t know everything. I was a very arrogant person and let my ego get the best of me. I’ve learnt how to have patience and slow down my thinking. It’s very important to work through problems slowly and not jump at the first emotion. If there is a situation or event that causes you to have a negative reaction, taking a moment to challenge it and think, can be the difference between a good and bad decision. Responsibility, honesty, caring, objectivity, humility and gratitude are great attitudes to grow.”

When Shrem was asked to say what he did wrong in the first place his answer was:

“In 2011 when I was 21 years old, I allowed a customer to buy Bitcoins via my company Bitinstant when I knew this customer was reselling these Bitcoins on Silk Road. I was irresponsible and I should have done more to block him from using our services. I dont blame anyone but myself and every day I think about all the people I let down.”

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Eugenia Romanenko

Eugenia graduated from Minsk State Linguistic University with a degree in Intercultural Communication, Translation/Interpretation (Italian, English). Currently she works as a business analyst, freelance interpreter and tutor. She’s fond of numismatics, photos, good books and sports, adores travelling and cooking.

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