Tuesday, March 16, 2021

FBI Raid Results in 6 People Arrested on Federal Charges in Connection with Bitcoin

The FBI has just conducted a raid  of several properties in Keene, New Hampshire associated with a libertarian-styled group referred to as Free Keene, reports the Manchester Link.

“The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in connection with an ongoing federal investigation at several locations in Keene, NH and the surrounding area,” said Kristen M. Setera, Office of Public Affairs, FBI Boston Division in Chelsea, Mass. in an email response to an inquiry.  “At this time, there is no threat to public safety.”

At about 1 p.m. the U.S. Attorney’s office in Concord released the names of six people who have been indicted by a federal grand jury in New Hampshire and charged with participating in a conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business “and other offenses.”

Those charged include:

  • Ian Freeman (formerly Ian Bernard), 40, of Keene
  • Colleen Fordham, 60, of Alstead
  • Renee Spinella, 23, of Derry
  • Andrew Spinella, 35, of Derry
  • Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), 52, of Keene
  • Aria DiMezzo (formerly James Baker), 34, of Keene

According to the U.S. Attorney news release,  Freeman, Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, and Nobody also are charged with wire fraud and participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Ian Freeman is charged with money laundering and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise.  Freeman and DiMezzo also are charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to the indictment, since 2016, the defendants have operated a business that enabled customers to exchange over $10 million in fiat currency for virtual currency (that is currency held within the blockchain network that is not controlled by a centralized banking authority such as Bitcoin) charging a fee for their service. They operated their virtual currency exchange business using websites, as well as operating virtual currency ATM machines in New Hampshire. The indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations. The indictment also alleges that some defendants opened bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities. According to the indictment, some defendants then engaged in substantial efforts to evade detection of their virtual currency exchange scheme by avoiding answering financial institutions’ questions about the nature of the business and misleading financial institutions into believing their virtual currency exchange business was instead a religious organization receiving charitable contributions.

All of the defendants were arrested during the coordinated law enforcement action today.  They are scheduled for initial appearances before a United States Magistrate Judge on Tuesday afternoon.


(ht Brandon Brush)


  1. I used to listen to Ian's radio show. He is a committed and creative libertarian activist, but there's something wrong with him. He's autistic or something like that. He's not stupid, but he does not really understand the game he is playing, and I'm not the least bit surprised he's getting arrested and charged. He enjoys courtroom drama and invites confrontations with the state. He thinks he can goad the state into a reaction so over the top that people will sit up and finally take notice of how thuggish they are. He's got panache and he's got balls, but's going to end badly for him.

    All libertarians should take a good look at their affairs and see about shoring up any vulnerabilities they have. If we ever manage to show any signs of success, the gloves will come off and they will come after us.

    The libertarians getting rich off the bitcoin game all look too clever by half to me. They think they've discovered some technological Achilles heal of the state, but the state can still just physically dominate your soft, fragile body no matter how many Super Mario coins you collect.


    1. You consistently have the best comments on this site. Do you have a Substack or something?

    2. If I recall correctly, he was a confederate of Cantwell. I sense a theme. Good advice in this comment.

    3. Donxon, very well said. I also used to listen to Ian's show "free talk live" many years ago. I hope he doesn't try the "you have no jurisdiction over me" schtick. This ain't no car registration ticket. I hope it's not curtains for him, but none of this loojs good.

      He seems like a very nice & sincere guy.

      I know nothing about the business enterprise they're charged with. But the state will be the state.

  2. Ian Freeman is of Free Talk Live in NH I believe. Possibly "Nobody" too. I believe they did run a church called the Free Shire Church. Haven't listened to them in years but very active libertarians in NH.

    1. The radio show is still on as of last night. They were all the show last night. This is bad for them

  3. I was friends with Rich on Facebook. Ian has been in trouble before. It doesn't sound like they did anything most libertarians would consider a crime, but you have to be aware of financial laws.

  4. The state is not infallible. The state has weaknesses. And yes, as their control over money is a major source of their power, weakening that control weakens them. Doesn't mean that some bitcoiners won't get squashed by the state unfortunately, but taking out Ian isn't going to do anything to slow bitcoin, and it isn't going to prevent people who keep their heads down from getting rich off of it.

    Ian is in trouble because he has been openly thumbing his nose at the state and the feds for over a decade. He's not just some nobody that happens to have bitcoin. Bitcoiners don't need to do what Ian is doing. You can bet Mark, his co-host, has plenty of bitcoin too, but he isn't facing a federal indictment.

  5. It is no accident that the FBI focuses on these insignificant financial "crimes" with such gusto, while actually providing protection for the largest financial crimes in world history. This statement works without the word "financial" included as well.

  6. Looking beyond the FBI's fireworks and flair for the dramatic, it appears to be (as most "crimes" are), a victimless crime, and hence no crime at all; Perfect for an acquittal by a jury practicing the centuries-old practice of Jury Nullification.