Anthony Murgio pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to operate an illicit bitcoin exchange, according to The Palm Beach Post. He will be sentenced in June.
Murgio was accused of operating the bitcoin exchange, Coin.mx, that laundered cash for Internet criminals, including drug dealers, and facilitated extortion schemes.
He was accused of operating an unlicensed money transfer business that used bitcoin to launder cash.
The plea comes less than three weeks after prosecutors released a new indictment against Murgio and two others.
Case Ensnares Murgio’s Father
The case against Murgio, who was initially indicted in July 2015, ensnared his father, Mike Murgio, a Palm Beach County School board member. Prosecutors charged the father with participating in a bribery scheme to hide the bitcoin exchange operations.
The charges forced the elder Murgio to resign from his school board role. He pleaded guilty in October to lesser charges.
The defendants claimed the new indictment was too close to a trial date that was less than two months away. Attorneys said the new allegations could have persuaded Murgio to take a plea deal. He previously pleaded not guilty.
Connection To 2014 JPMorgan Hack
Murgio began making trips to Russia and working with a man who oversaw the historic JPMorgan Chase hack in 2014.
Murgio was not charged as part of the group accused of hacking information on over 100 million customers of banks and publishing firms and making hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds from online gambling and pump-and-dump schemes, CCN reported.
The judge on Friday granted Murgio permission to travel from Florida for the hearing in New York today to allow him to change his plea.
Murgio’s lawyer, Brian Klein, said the guilty plea would be entered on Monday.
A Promising Start
Murgio had been elected president of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity at Florida State University. He spent time selling Cutco knives door to door while in college.
He said a fraternity brother showed him how to make money in online marketing.
He graduated in 2007 with a degree in marketing. He branched out from online marketing to operating restaurants and was soon the owner of three of them.
He was chosen in 2010 by Tallahassee Magazine as one of the “Top Singles of Tallahassee.”
Fortunes Turn Sour
In April 2012, he filed for bankruptcy, having sold his restaurants and his online marketing company.
A judge rejected his bankruptcy petition claiming he tried to conceal $4,000 a month in income from subleasing condos.
He was arrested in 2013 for withholding $110,000 in state sales tax collections and was booked at the Palm Beach County Jail.
He registered a company called Collectables Club in 2013. He told banks he processed transactions for this club to buy and sell old coins, sports memorabilia and antiques.
Prosecutors said Collectables Club masked Coin.mx, the unlicensed money transfer company.
A fellow FSU grad, Yuri Lebedev, helped set up the company.
Prosecutors said Murgio and Lebedev both worked for Gery Shalon, an Israeli who actually owned Coin.mx. Shalon carried out the JPMorgan Chase customer data hack in 2014.
Coin.mx exchanged a total $1.8 million in cash for bitcoins for tens of thousands of customers between October 2013 and January 2015.
Scheme Entraps A Credit Union
The Murgios allegedly bribed Trevon Gross, a pastor serving as chairman of Helping Other People Excel Federal Credit Union in Jackson, N.J., which catered to low-income residents.
Prosecutors said Murgio used the credit union as a captive bank to operate Coin.mx.
Authorities arrested Murgio and Lebedev in Florida in July 2015.
Israeli authorities, meanwhile, arrested Shalon and another accomplice.
In November, authorities charged Shalon and another man, Joshua Aaron, in connection with the JPMorgan hack. Aaron remained at large, believed to be in Russia.
The scheme also included illegal gambling websites, prosecutors said.
While the elder Murgio’s involvement is believed to be limited, he still faces federal bribery charges for making corrupt payments with the intent to influence a financial institution’s officer. Mike Murgio is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
Anthony Murgio has been out of jail since the summer after his mother offered her condo as collateral to post his bond.