Business & Investment

Owners of the Institute for Children’s Nonprofit Science admit to performing secret Bitcoin money laundering operations for drug dealers

The prosecution said that the owner of a non-profit high-tech lab aimed at making science accessible to children secretly performed money laundering operations and exchanged dirty cash from drug dealers for Bitcoin. It states.

Christopher Allamboden, 46, has been running The Geek Group, an educational facility that provides students and inventors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with access to high-quality scientific instruments since 1994. The group also produced the popular YouTube series.
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A video explaining how science actually worked.

But in 2017, prosecutors say Bowden and some of his employees started an illegal money laundering business on their side. The nerd group was closed in late 2018 after the lab was attacked by federal agents.

“”“Cryptocurrency is not a license or invitation to commit a crime.”

— Andrew Barge, Federal Attorney for Western Michigan

On Monday, Bowden, also known as the “captain,” pleaded guilty to unlicensed money laundering and deposit structuring to circumvent financial institutions’ reporting requirements.

His co-defendant, Daniel “Danichi” Dejager, 35, from Tacoma, Washington, worked as a consultant for the otaku group, and Grand Rapids’ Lisa “Moose” Voct, 37, was executive director of the group. Related charges.

Borden and Dejagah face up to 20 years in prison. Vogt faces up to 10 years. All will be sentenced in February. (Move this from bottom to top).

Bowden’s lawyer, Brian Lennon, said his client turned to Bitcoin as a way to raise money to help fund the struggling science center.

“He sold it to others for a small profit and helped pay mortgages for buildings, maintain utility bills, and pay for educational programs in the nerd group,” Lennon said. “Despite the loss of his life’s work, his company, his staff, his reputation, and almost everything he owns, Mr. Bowden has a sincere and passionate desire to learn about science and technology. I continue to work to this day to educate, inspire and entertain people. “

De Jager and Vogt’s lawyers declined to comment.

Prosecutors said in early 2017, Bowden began informing him that he would exchange Bitcoin for cash without asking questions. Between then and December 2018, prosecutors say the group exchanged $ 740,000. I was aware that some of them were due to the sale of controlled substances.

Beautiful bitcoin

“The defendant will tell the customer that he has sold untraceable” clean “Bitcoin,” according to Bowden’s judicial transaction. This is different from the licensed exchange where the defendant stated that he “sold dirty Bitcoin.”

The operation was eventually canceled when an undercover investigator disguised as a drug dealer approached Bowden and agreed to exchange $ 15,000 in cash for Bitcoin for a 15% fee, according to court documents. I did.

According to prosecutors, in this scheme DeJager buys Bitcoin and puts it into a process called mixing. This process mixes with other Bitcoins, resulting in obscure ownership.

Bowden then received Bitcoin and sold it in exchange for cash. Cash is then deposited in your account for less than $ 10,000 to avoid triggering bank reporting requirements.

In the United States, anyone who regularly exchanges cryptocurrencies with others must register as a remittance agent with banking regulators, but Bowden did not. Bowden’s lawyer said his client initially didn’t think he needed to register his operation because he was only doing a small deal. Later when he realized he needed Bowden, he realized he couldn’t afford the money he needed, his lawyer said.

“Cryptocurrencies are not licenses or invitations to commit crimes,” said Andrew Barge, a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Michigan. “Federal law regulates people who handle cryptocurrencies as well as those who handle government-issued currencies. If we find a crypto criminal, we will eradicate it and prosecute it.”

Boden posted on Facebook after raiding The Geek Group headquarters in 2018
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The lab had been financially struggling for years and could no longer continue.

“We never found a way to do it and earn enough money to keep it up,” he writes. “We’ve tried for decades, but eventually failed. We’ve been stumbled upon for years as a joke, but recent PR hits have been four different federations. It was attacked by an agency and couldn’t really tell people why, and finally hit a wall. ”

Owners of the Institute for Children’s Nonprofit Science admit to performing secret Bitcoin money laundering operations for drug dealers Owners of the Institute for Children’s Nonprofit Science admit to performing secret Bitcoin money laundering operations for drug dealers

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