James Zhong, a man who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in November 2022 for his role in stealing Bitcoin from the Silk Road marketplace in 2012, has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The announcement was made on April 14, 2023, by the U.S. Justice Department. Zhong had been awaiting sentencing since his guilty plea.
According to the U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Zhong had stolen more than 51,680 Bitcoin in 2012 and managed to conceal his crime for roughly a decade before finally facing charges. Williams stated that the sentencing should serve as a warning to cyber-criminals that the authorities will pursue them and hold them accountable, regardless of the sophistication of their schemes and the time it takes to catch them.
The bulk of the stolen crypto was found in a floor safe and a computer concealed in a popcorn tin at Zhong’s home in the state of Georgia, which U.S. authorities seized in November 2021. At the time, the coins were worth roughly $3.4 billion.
The Silk Road marketplace, which was defunct for roughly 10 years, allowed users to buy and sell illicit goods such as weapons and stolen credit card information, attracting the attention of U.S. authorities. The platform’s creator, Ross Ulbricht, was arrested for his role in 2013 and is currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The sentencing memo for Zhong revealed that investigators had seized criminal proceeds from “a single-board computer that was submerged under blankets in a popcorn tin stored in a bathroom closet.”
The U.S. government plans to sell 41,000 Bitcoin connected to the Silk Road, which were seized from Ulbricht in 2013.
The authorities have been increasingly cracking down on crypto-related crime, with enforcement agencies turning up the heat on such activities.
In summary, James Zhong has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for wire fraud charges related to his involvement in stealing Bitcoin from the Silk Road marketplace in 2012. The U.S. authorities seized the stolen Bitcoin from Zhong’s home in Georgia in November 2021, with the coins worth roughly $3.4 billion at the time. The Silk Road marketplace allowed users to buy and sell illicit goods, and its creator, Ross Ulbricht, is currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole. The U.S. government plans to sell 41,000 Bitcoin connected to the Silk Road, which were seized from Ulbricht in 2013.