Cryptocurrency: Coinone’s registration application approved by regulators while Bithumb’s still on ice
Bitcoin could not be considered money under Florida law, says Barry University professor
Michell Espinoza’s defense team member professor Charles Evans at a money laundering trial in Miami, Florida said that bitcoin could not be considered money under Florida law as it was more similar to poker chips.
Michell Espinoza is accused of illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who claimed they wanted to use them to buy stolen credit card numbers. His defense team was arguing that the laundering charges are invalid since that Bitcoin isn’t technically money under local law.
According to siliconangle.com, Barry University associate economics professor Charles Evans made the claim during the trial of Michell Espinoza. “Basically, it’s poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” Evans testified during the trial. Although he was being paid $3,000 in Bitcoin for his appearance as a defense witness, he confirmed that bitcoin could not be considered money under the law.
Since the case is believed to be the first money-laundering case dealing in bitcoins, the prosecution of Espinoza is being watched by closely in financial and tech circles. As the currency has gained in popularity, law enforcement has struggled to figure out how it fits into illegal activities.
Prieto and Rene Palomin, Espinoza’s lawyers argued that Bitcoin isn’t technically money under Florida law and asked the court to dismiss the case against him so that laundering charges don’t apply. Espinoza was found by the officers through a bitcoin exchange site, LocalBitcoins.com.
Espinoza, 32, designs websites for businesses. In Miami, there are a few restaurants that accept the virtual currency along with a plastic surgeon.