A federal judge in New York has ruled that bitcoin constitutes a form of money.
The ruling comes from the ongoing case involving the now-defunct Florida bitcoin exchange Coin.mx and one of its former operators, Anthony Murgio.
Murgio, who was indicted on alleged money laundering charges in July of last year, had sought to dismiss two of the charges against him in part by arguing that bitcoins don't count as "funds" in the context of US law.
According to Reuters, Judge Alison Nathan of the Southern District Court of New York rejected that bid, writing that bitcoin is money by virtue of how it is used.
Nathan wrote in her ruling:
"Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term. Bitcoins can be accepted as a payment for goods and services or bought directly from an exchange with a bank account. They therefore function as pecuniary resources and are used as a medium of exchange and a means of payment."
The ruling comes on the heels of a court decision in Florida in which a Miami judge ruled that, according to state statutes, bitcoin doesn't qualify as a form of money. That decision sparked debate amongst observers and has sparked renewed effort in the state legislature to develop regulations around the digital currency.
The Coin.mx case is connected to a broader investigation by the US government into an alleged cybercrime ring tied to a series of hacks on major companies and financial institutions, including Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase. According to prosecutors, Coin.mx was used as a conduit for laundering proceeds from the purported operation.
Attorney Brian Klein, who represents Murgio in the case, told CoinDesk that his client plans to continue fighting the charges.
"The defense obviously disagrees with the Court's denial of the motion to dismiss," said Klein. "Anthony Murgio maintains his innocence and looks forward to clearing his name at his upcoming trial."
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