Two Jacksonville students are facing up to two decades behind bars after pleading guilty to stealing $4 million worth of bitcoin. The pair hacked darknet site Sheep Marketplace in 2013 and made off with 5,400 BTC. Under forfeiture laws, Nassau County Sheriff’s Office will share in a $1.7 million windfall.
LEA Celebrates Another Bitcoin Bonanza
Bitcoin thefts end badly for hackers who don’t cover their tracks, but spell great news for law enforcement. Across the US, federal and state agencies have been treating themselves to new computers and other equipment, all paid for with confiscated digital assets. It’s common practice for law enforcement to keep a portion of the proceeds from major crimes, but bitcoin’s rising value, coupled with the glacial pace at which criminal trials move, has caused payouts to balloon.
This week, Sean Harrison Mackert and Nathan Gibson pled guilty to wire fraud for hacking drug marketplace Sheep in late 2013. The pair, who are in their mid twenties, face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, in a case that news.Bitcoin.com first reported on last year. But one legal official believes they deserve to walk free.
“These young men, yes, they stole this money but there aren’t victims in the traditional sense,” said Jacksonville defense attorney Richard Landes. “If there were victims, the federal government would be returning this money to the victims; instead, the federal government is not returning this money. The federal government is keeping this money.”