U.S. Marshals to Auction over 660 Forfeited Bitcoin
The United States Marshals Service announced an auction of up to 660 bitcoins that were forfeited following various criminal, civil and administrative proceedings. The sale will be carried out on November 5. The announcement invites interested bidders to register with the USMS. During Registration the interested bidders are required to deposit $200,000 with the agency after which the bidder is allowed to submit a sealed bidding price. Bidders who the agency deems ineligible for the auction will have their deposit refunded.
The bidding and registration will commence on the 22nd of November and end on the 31st of the same month. Any bidders who may have registered with the USMS in preceding auctions will have to register again for their bids to be considered by the agency. Once submitted the bidders will not have the chance to change their bidding prices or view the prices of other bidders.
According to the announcement the bitcoins have been divided into two groups, the first group has six lots of 100 bitcoin each while the second group has one lot of 60 bitcoin. Bidders are allowed to place as many bids as possible for bitcoins in both groups as long as the price for one bitcoin is the same for each submission. If a bidder wishes to place bids at varying prices the agency demands that the bidder has to register again and make another deposit and then bid with the new price.
Once the auction is completed and the winner determined the deposits made by other bidders will be refunded once the bitcoins are transferred to the winner within five working days. The deposit belonging to the winner will not be refunded but will be deducted from the sum of the buying price. If the winner fails to make the payment, then they will forfeit their deposit unconditionally and the winning bid will be awarded to the next highest bidder.
The announcement indicates that the bitcoin on sale was obtained after criminal proceedings forced the convicted offenders to forfeit their coins. Some of the bitcoin belonged to convicted bitcoin traders Theresa Lynn Tetley and Thomas Mario Costanzo.
Theresa Lynn Tetley operated as a bitcoin trader and went by the name Bitcoin Maven in Localbitcoins.com where she had a trade a volume of 250-500 Bitcoin and a 100% feedback score. 50-year-old Tetley was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison by United States District Judge Manuel L. Real after she pleaded guilty to operating a bitcoin for cash exchange and her involvement in laundering bitcoin earned through drug trafficking.
Tetley is believed to have helped a suspected dark web drug dealer launder bitcoin received after drug sales. Tetley’s case was made more complicated by the fact that she offered bitcoin to cash services to an undercover agent who presented himself as a drug trafficker. Following her admission of guilt, the judge ordered her to forfeit 40 Bitcoin believed to be proceeds of her criminal activities.
Thomas Mario Costanzo, on the other hand, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 41 months less time served from when he was arrested back in April 2017. Costanzo was sentenced on August 1 after a jury found him guilty of money laundering on the 28th of March 2018. According to evidence presented against him, Costanzo agreed to take cash for bitcoin from undercover agents who told him they were drug dealers. Costanzo received a sum of $164,700 from the secret agents believing they were cocaine and heroin dealers for two years.
The evidence used against him showed that he bought drugs using bitcoin and provided bitcoin to other online drug buyers. When issuing the sentence, Judge Murray ordered Costanzo to forfeit 81 Bitcoin.
This auction will be the third bitcoin auction of this year by the U.S. Marshals. In the most recent sale that took place back in March, the agency sold 2,170 individual coins. Some of the auctioned bitcoins belonged to the former special service agent Shaun Bridges who was involved in the Silk Road marketplace investigation and eventual takedown. Shaun Bridges was initially sentenced to six years in prison, but his sentence was extended by two more years after he was found guilty of more bitcoin theft. During extension of his prison sentence, Shaun was ordered to forfeit 1,500 Bitcoin that the U.S. Marshals included in the March auction.