Bitcoin Trader Gets Four-Year Jail Term Over Silk Road Connection

Robert Faiella, the bitcoin trader charged alongside BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, has been sentenced to four years imprisonment in a New York court.

AccessTimeIconJan 21, 2015 at 3:17 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:27 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Robert M Faiella, the bitcoin trader charged alongside BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, has been sentenced to four years imprisonment in New York.

Faiella, otherwise known as 'BTCKing', pleaded guilty to operating an illegal money transmission business after he exchanged fiat currency for bitcoins that were then used to buy drugs on the Silk Road marketplace.

According to a Bloomberg report, Faiella said:

"At the time of the event, I saw no other way ... it still doesn’t mitigate that I broke the law."

Faiella, a 53 year-old Florida native, is a former plumber who claimed he had turned to the bitcoin exchange business to support his family after becoming disabled with back problems. He and Shrem were arrested in January 2014.

Sentenced by US District Judge Jed Rakoff, who also presided over Shrem's case, Faiella faced a five-year maximum term.

Related cases

Shrem himself was sentenced in December to two years in prison after making a plea deal with prosecutors. While currently living at home, he must surrender himself at a date yet to be determined and any travel prior to that needs to be approved by a judge.

He was not able to obtain permission to attend the recent North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami.

Shrem also admitted his actions had broken the law, and said his sentence was light considering the 30-year maximum he had faced, and up to 60 months even with the plea bargain.

He also had to forfeit $950,000 in profits and will have three years of supervised release after his sentence is complete.

Ross Ulbricht, accused of being the ringleader of the Silk Road operation called 'Dread Pirate Roberts', is currently on trial for drug trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking in New York.

Ulbricht has not made a plea deal and faces life in prison if found guilty.

Gavel image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.