Bitcoin's 'First Felon' Charlie Shrem Begins 2-Year Sentence

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem begins his stint in prison today, having been sentenced in December to two years behind bars.

AccessTimeIconMar 30, 2015 at 12:57 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 10, 2022 at 9:44 p.m. UTC

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem begins his stint in prison today, having been sentenced in December to two years behind bars.

The 25-year-old will serve his time at Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania for aiding and abetting the operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.

"Of course I'm scared, but I'll get through it. I've prepared," he told CoinDesk in a recent interview.

Of his 24-month sentence, Shrem hopes to only serve nine or 10 months and indicated that, while it's hardly going to be a pleasant experience, it could be a lot worse.

He will be sharing a cell with two or three other inmates at the minimum-security facility, which houses around 465 male offenders.

"There are no fences and there's baseball, basketball, tennis, a library, etc," he explained.

The charge

At the age of 22, Shrem was the CEO of bitcoin exchange BitInstant. While working at this company, he violated anti-money laundering duties by dealing with Robert Faiella, who supplied $1m in digital currency to people buying drugs on the now-defunct online marketplace Silk Road.

Faiella, who went by the alias of 'BTCKing', was sentenced in January to four years imprisonment.

Both Shrem and Faiella entered plea bargains, agreeing to forfeit $950,000 each to the US government as a condition of their deals.

When Shrem was sentenced in late December, he acknowledged the illegality of his actions, stating:

“I have no excuses for what I did. I broke the law and I broke it badly."


During his time in prison, Shrem won't have access to the Internet, but he will be able to send and receive emails.

He is also encouraging the bitcoin community to send him money so he can pay for email and phone access, stamps, food and other items.

However, Shrem said that what's more important to him is for people to send magazines, books, letters and cuttings or printouts of articles about bitcoin.

In blog post titled So, I’m going to prison. Reflections from Bitcoins’ first felon, Shrem said he was content with his "relatively short sentence", adding:
"I don’t look for sympathy, I did the crime and I will do the time. They say those who stand by you in the bad times, deserve to be with you in the good times. Good times are coming and I look forward to it."

Once Shrem completes his sentence, he will serve three years of supervised release.

Shrem told CoinDesk he has a few plans for when he is released, but added "right now, I'm not really thinking about it, I'm just focused on finishing my sentence".

Image via Shutterstock.


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