American couple accused of laundering stolen Bitfinex funds arrange plea deal
Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein first attracted attention after their 2022 arrest.
A couple accused of money laundering in connection to a 2016 hack of the crypto exchange Bitfinex have reached a plea deal, Reuters said on July 21.
Senior Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has reportedly ordered prosecutors to file a copy of the plea deal from the accused, Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein, by July 27. A plea hearing will then take place in a Washington court on Aug. 3.
Reuters based its information on current court filings. Though it did not identify the document in question, a summary of a July 20 filing indicates that the magistrate case for both individuals has been closed pending deadlines, motions, and excludables.
Morgan and Lichtenstein were arrested in February 2022 and were accused of laundering approximately 100,000 BTC from a hack on Bitfinex six years earlier.
Case continues to develop
CryptoSlate previously reported that the couple allegedly laundered 119,756 Bitcoin (BTC). The stolen funds were worth close to $3.6 billion at the time of the seizure, though they were worth $4.5 billion when the story emerged in February 2022. The above amount is once again worth $3.6 billion at current market prices.
Prosecutors charged the couple with conspiracy to commit money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Those charges carry potential maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and five years in prison, respectively.
Reuters said in its current report that prosecutors now aim to force Morgan and Lichtenstein to forfeit assets worth about $3 billion, based on the current spot prices of various cryptocurrencies. Incidentally, the demanded assets include not just crypto, but also gold coins “excavated and recovered by law enforcement” in California.
Morgan and Lichtenstein maintained a public presence. Morgan had an online rap-hop career under the alias “Razzlekhan.” Lichtenstein acted as a serial entrepreneur and also ran a YouTube channel as an amateur magician.
The couple’s off-beat personal life and alleged high-profile crimes have led Netflix to announce a series based on the two individauls. That series has not yet been released.