Over the course of several years, Theresa Lynn Tetley, also known as the Bitcoin Maven, was responsible for running a bitcoin-for-cash operation that saw her exchange between USD 6 million and USD 9.5 million.
On the surface, such actions wouldn’t sound like the kind of crime that could land someone one year in federal prison, but 50-year-old Tetley ran her entire operation off the books and failed to register her “business” as a money services enterprise.
Perhaps most importantly, she did not offer any “anti-money-laundering mechanisms,” as required by the Justice Department.
The former stockbroker and real estate investor was formally charged with “operating an unregistered money transmission business and laundering bitcoin.”
At least one case brought against her stemmed from accepting proceeds from narcotics activity.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real ordered that Tetley forfeit 40 bitcoins, with a value of around $270,000, as well as almost $300,000 in cash, and 25 gold bars.
Tetley came to be known as the Bitcoin Maven after posting on localbitcoins.com under the moniker, where she advertised her services.
$300,000 in Trader Joe’s bags
It all started to come apart for the Bitcoin Maven when she unwittingly began doing business with what turned out to be an undercover DEA agent in 2016.
The undercover agent posed as a drug dealer who was looking to exchange money that had been generated through narcotics sales.
Tetley was more than happy to exchange the undercover agents’ bitcoin for around $300,000 in cash that was delivered in two Trader Joe’s paper shopping bags.
“Providing cash in envelopes (and in the significant amounts she did), in coffee shops and restaurants, is no way to conduct legitimate business, certainly when that volume exceeds the millions,” prosecutors commented via a sentencing memorandum.
“Someone such as the defendant—a former stockbroker and real estate investor—was certainly aware of that.”
It also seems that Tetley was doing business with William James Farber, who was believed to be head of one of the most prominent drug-trafficking rings on the dark web marketplace Alphabay.
Theresa “Bitcoin Maven” Tetley will spend 366 days in federal prison, and in her closing statement she asked for leniency, claiming that “It quickly became a business — and I broke all sorts of laws. I have learned my lessons.”
Lover of all things crypto, blockchain and AI, professional tech scribe & part of the editorial team at Crypto Disrupt.