Three Plead Guilty to Wire Fraud In Connection with Unlawful Virtual Currency Sales Business
(STL.News) Andrew Spinella, 36, of Derry, Renee Spinella, 24, of Derry, and Nobody, a/k/a Richard Paul, 53, of Keene, pleaded guilty last week in federal court to wire fraud, United States Attorney John J. Farley announced today.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between approximately 2016 and 2021, the defendants opened and operated accounts at financial institutions as personal accounts in their names or as business accounts in the names of churches in order to allow their co-defendant, Ian Freeman, to use them to sell virtual currency.
Andrew Spinella pleaded guilty on April 12, 2022. He admitted to opening personal accounts in his name for Freeman to use to sell virtual currency. He signed blank checks and gave Freeman the login information for those accounts.
Renee Spinella pleaded guilty on April 14, 2022. She admitted that she opened a business account in the name of Crypto Church of NH, which she told the bank was an international ministry. She opened the account in person at a bank branch in New Hampshire where she was accompanied by Freeman. Although the account was purported to be for the receipt of church donations, the account was used almost exclusively to support Freeman’s virtual currency exchange business.
Nobody pleaded guilty on April 15, 2002. He admitted that he opened accounts in his name and in the name of the Church of the Invisible Hand. At the time he opened the accounts or provided Freeman with access to the accounts, he knew they would not be used as personal accounts or for a church, but instead would be used by Freeman to trade virtual currency.
Each of the defendants was aware that banks would close these accounts if the banks knew the accounts were used to operate an unlicensed virtual currency business.
Andrew and Renee Spinella are scheduled to be sentenced on July 26, 2022. Nobody is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2022.
A total of six individuals have been charged in this case. Freeman and two other co-defendants are scheduled to go to trial on November 1, 2022.
“By using fraudulent means to mislead banks about the true purpose of these bank accounts, the defendants assisted in the operation of an unlawful virtual currency business,” said U.S. Attorney Farley. “To protect the integrity of our financial system, we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute individuals who participate in fraud schemes involving virtual currency.”
“Andrew and Renee Spinella, along with Nobody, confessed to opening and operating bank accounts, using their names or the names of religious organizations, to help their co-defendant run his virtual currency business. They knew it was wrong and they continued their conduct anyway,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Last week’s court proceedings show such criminal actions have serious consequences. The FBI is uniquely situated to investigate and dismantle these elaborate schemes, and we urge folks, whether investing in cash or virtual currency, to exercise due diligence and report suspicious activity to us.”
“This investigation and the subsequent admissions by the defendants are a clear reminder that IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to following the money trail and will not be deterred by sophisticated financial transactions,” said Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Office. “These federal felony convictions have effectively shut down this scheme and should serve as a stark warning to those engaged in similar criminal activities.”
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Georgiana L. MacDonald, John Kennedy, and Seth R. Aframe.