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LA Bitcoin Trader Faces 30 Months in Jail for Illegal Money Business

A Los Angeles bitcoin trader faces more than two years in jail for having operated what prosecutors say is an illegal money transmitting business.

Fifty-year-old Theresa Tetley, who worked under the name "Bitcoin Maven," made at least $300,000 a year from trading bitcoin on Localbitcoins.com between 2014 and 2017, according to NBC Los Angeles. She also made transactions over that time worth from $6 million to $9.5 million.

Tetley has already pled guilty to operating an unregistered money transmission business and exchanging around 80 BTC for $70,000 in one transaction that prosecutors allege involved the proceeds of drug trafficking, according to court documents.

The ex-trader now faces a 30-month federal jail sentence for the crimes, if the government gets its way in court on Monday, although her defense team is pushing for a lesser sentence of one year. Federal prosecutors also hope to seize 40 BTC (currently worth $270,000), $292,264 and 25 gold bars seized by law enforcement agents in March, according to the report.

The Prosecutors Office said in court documents that Tetley's activities "fueled a black-market financial system in the Central District of California that purposely and deliberately existed outside of the regulated bank industry."

While the case is thought to the first of its kind in Southern California, according to NBC LA, other bitcoin traders have run afoul of authorities in other parts of U.S. in the last year.

A Detroit bitcoin trader was sentenced in December 2017 to 366 days in jail for similarly operating an unlicensed money services business. Sal Mansy funneled bitcoin transactions – also using localbitcoins.com – through a corporation he owned, ultimately conducting $2.4 million-worth of bitcoin transactions over a two-year period.

In another case linked to Localbitcoins, father and son trading team Randall and Michael Lord were last May handed down jail sentences of 106 months and 46 months, respectively, for running an unlawful money business. Michael Lord also pled guilty to a charge involving narcotics distribution.

Jail image via Shutterstock

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