Former leaders of The Geek Group in Grand Rapids indicted for unregistered Bitcoin trade
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – More than two years after a federal attack on the Geek Group in Grand Rapids, charges have been brought against company executives alleging illegal bitcoin trading and money laundering.
The indictment was signed in Grand Rapids District Court on February 24th.
Christopher Allan Boden, the company’s president, is named as a defendant; Leesa Beth Vogt, a member of the company’s board of directors; and Daniel Reynod DeJager, a management consultant. The Geek Group, also known as the National Science Institute, was a registered not-for-profit organization.
Related: Tech Center, once the ‘Geek Group’, will be permanently closed after the robbery
Federal prosecutors claim Boden sold Bitcoin to numerous customers for US currency. They claim more than $ 700,000 has been sold.
The problem, the authorities said, is that Boden and the other defendants were not approved as money service providers or money transmitters with the US Treasury Department.
Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency and is completely virtual. A bitcoin is essentially a computer file that is usually stored in a “digital wallet”.
According to the indictment, prosecutors allege Boden obtained bitcoin through DeJager, who lived out of state. The defendants set up a Chase Bank account in mid-2017 to store income from Bitcoin sales and also to buy more.
Related: Grand Rapids Tech Group raided by the government
Prosecutors claim that Boden and DeJager knew “that at least some of the funds involved were used to buy or sell controlled substances.”
They also claim that Boden advertised its ability to “mix” bitcoin to customers. Mixing is a way of obscuring the connection between bitcoin digital addresses and personal identities.
The Geek Group was searched by federal agencies in December 2018.
For the past several years it has provided hands-on educational opportunities including the use of high-tech equipment and facilities by students, inventors, and others. Periodically, used computers were given out at little or no cost to help children in difficult families.
Less than two weeks after the robbery, the Geek Group announced it was closing down for good.
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