The Bitcoin logo is displayed on the screen of a Bitcoin ATM on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
A lawyer for the New York couple accused of an “extraordinarily complex” scheme to launder $4.5 billion in stolen bitcoin argues in a court filing that they are not a flight risk because, among other things, they want to stay near their frozen embryos.
Morgan and her husband, Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein, “previously froze several of her embryos at a hospital in New York in anticipation of starting a family together, as she can only conceive through in vitro fertilization because she suffers from endometriosis,” lawyer Samson Enzer wrote in the filing.
“The couple would never flee from the country at the risk of losing access to their ability to have children, which they were discussing having this year until their lives were disrupted by their arrests in this case,” Enzer wrote.
The lawyer also argued that Morgan, an aspiring rapper under the name Razzlekahn, and Lichtenstein, who holds dual U.S. and Russian citizenship, are not a flight risk, because they “both stayed put in their residence in lower Manhattan … even after the government’s investigation targeting them in this case” several months ago.
The filing came in advance of the couple’s scheduled bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, when Judge Beryl Howard is expected to review their bail conditions imposed after they were arrested Tuesday at their residence. Howard on Thursday ordered the couple transported from jail in New York to Washington for that hearing.
Morgan, 31, and the 34-year-old Lichtenstein are accused of an alleged conspiracy to launder $4.5 billion worth of bitcoin that was stolen in 2016 during the hack of the virtual currency exchange Bitfinex. They are not charged with the hack itself.
The Justice Department said Tuesday that it has seized more than $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin linked to that hack, which was allegedly in crypto wallets under the couple’s control. That is the largest financial seizure ever by the department.
At the time of the breach, the hacker transferred nearly 120,000 bitcoins into a crypto wallet that Lichtenstein in January of this year was found to have access to, according to prosecutors.
Although the bitcoin in that wallet was worth $71 million at the time of the hack, its value had grown to more than $4.5 billion by January.
Enzer said Judge Beryl Howell should maintain the bail conditions imposed by Tuesday by Manhattan federal court Judge Debra Freeman, who set bond at $5 million for Lichtenstein and $3 million for Morgan, with the conditions of home incarceration and location-monitoring devices.
That bail ruling was temporarily blocked by Howell late Tuesday after prosecutors urged her to do so, arguing that they are a flight risk.
Prosecutors in their emergency request had said that although authorities had seized “the majority of the stolen funds” from the hack, “there are at least…
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