The case relates to hacking attacks at dozens of companies including JPMorgan which resulted in exposing the personal information of more than 100 million people.
In a ruling which recognises the legitimacy of bitcoins as money, a federal judge has ruled that bitcoins qualify as money. The ruling is related to a criminal case involving hacking attacks against JPMorgan and Co and other companies.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan has rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to allegations of operating coin.mx, which prosecutors have called as an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.
Murgio’s argument of bitcoins not qualifying as “funds” under federal law did not hold water. Existing federal laws prohibit the operation of unlicensed money transmitting of businesses.
Basing herself on a 2014 precedent, the judge, like her colleague, stated that the virtual currency met the definition of funds.
“Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term,” wrote Nathan. “Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment.”
This decision does not address the six other criminal counts that Murgio faces, wrote Nathan.
Brian Klein, a lawyer for Murgio, stated he disagreed with this decision.
“Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial,” said Klei.
In 2015, prosecutors had charged Murgio over the operation of Coin.mx. In April this year, they charged his father in participating in bribery aimed at supporting the operation of the unauthorised exchange.
According to authorities, Coin.mx was owned by an Israeli man, Gery Shalon, who along with two others were charged with running a sprawling computer hacking and fraud scheme which targeted dozens of companies, including JPMorgan. In the process, it exposed the personal data of more than 100 million people.
According to the prosecution, these illegal schemes generated hundreds of millions of dollars by pumping up stock prices, through money laundering, online casinos and other illegal activities.
According to court filings, Shalon has pleaded not guilty. He is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. He has hired new lawyers last month and is seeking permission to replace the lawyers who joined his case earlier in June.
The case is U.S. v Murgio et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00769.