inside sources print logo
Get up to date New Hampshire news in your inbox

Feds Drop 17 Charges Ahead of Freeman’s ‘Crypto 6’ Trial

Ian Freeman got an early Christmas gift from federal prosecutors as 17 of the 25 felony charges against him were dropped days before his trial was set to begin. 

“While I am happy to see the bulk of the charges in my case go away, I’m sad for my friends who were intimidated into wrongful convictions for victimless ‘crimes’ on charges that would likely have been dropped anyway,” Freeman said on his blog over the weekend.

Freeman is the last of the so-called ‘Crypto 6’ defendants. Four of his co-defendants took plea deals. The fifth had all charges dropped. His trial is set to begin this week in the United States District Court in Concord, with jury selection starting Tuesday morning. Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, told NHJournal he hopes to give his opening arguments in the case Tuesday afternoon.

Freeman was facing a potential of more than 400 years in prison if convicted of the original 25 charges. Prosecutors dropped all 12 wire fraud counts, three money laundering charges, as well as several other counts including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud as well as continuing a financial crime enterprise.

The remaining eight counts include conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and four counts of attempting to evade taxes.

Freeman was arrested in a March 2020 raid at his Keene home along with co-defendants Aria DiMezzo and Nobody, formerly known as Rich Paul. Freeman’s ex-girlfriend Renee Spinella and her husband, Andrew Spinella, were arrested at their homes in Derry. Alstead resident Colleen Fordham was also arrested as part of the bust.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Fordham early in the case. DiMezzo, Nobody, and the Spinellas ended up taking plea agreements that netted them light sentences. Freeman said on his Free Keene blog taking a plea is always a mistake, and that his friends succumbed to pressure from aggressive prosecutors.

“They stack a ton of charges against you, then threaten to stack even more if you don’t tap out. A few years of probation and a felony starts looking really good compared to 30 years in prison, so it’s understandable why people will take a plea, even though they didn’t actually commit the crime of which they are accused,” Freeman wrote. “The prosecutors love it as they rack up conviction after conviction, ruining innocent peoples’ lives and bolstering the prosecutors’ careers. Plus, they never have to bother preparing for and going to trial. It’s super easy for them and it almost always works.”

Freeman said his friends are now stuck with the convictions on their records, though they likely could have fought the charges and won in court.

“Now they are saddled with felony convictions for the rest of their lives for something that sounds really bad. The reality is, the accusations were simply that they’d lied to a bank, and that it was not even to try to scam the bank out of money, but only to do things like keep an account open,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman is accused of taking in millions of dollars through Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs with the help of DiMezzo and the others. Freeman reportedly used personal bank accounts and accounts for made-up churches like the Shire Free Church, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire, the Church of the Invisible Hand, and DiMezzo’s Reformed Satanic Church in order to conduct their bitcoin businesses. He allegedly lied to banks in opening accounts for his churches and other businesses and got the others to open accounts on his behalf, according to court records. Part of the operation for Freeman was to help cyber criminals swindle money from lonely victims, according to the indictments.

Freeman, DiMezzo, and Nobody are all part of the Free Keene collective, an offshoot of the Free State Project. The Free State Project made a show of kicking Freeman out of the movement in 2014 after he repeatedly advocated for lowering the age of consent. The Free State Project is a Libertarian initiative to overtake the state’s government. Freeman is an advocate of seceding from the United States of America. 

GOP’s Murphy May be Called to Testify in Crypto 6 Case

Keith Murphy, the NHGOP’s hand-picked candidate for state Senate, could end up explaining to a jury his business relationship with the defendants in the infamous Crypto 6 money laundering case.

Ian Freeman, the last of the Keene Crypto 6 defendants headed to trial, faces more than 30 federal felony counts for his Bitcoin business operation, which included running Bitcoin ATMs in various business locations. One of those ATMs was set up in the Manchester location of Murphy’s Taproom, a restaurant owned by the senate candidate.

Freeman’s attorney says he may call Murphy as a witness for the defense.

“All I was doing was providing a little wall space for the machine,” Murphy told NH Journal.

Murphy, a former GOP state representative, was picked by state GOP Chair Stephen Stepanek to replace state Rep. Michael Yakubovich (R-Hooksett) on the November ballot for the District 16 race. Yakubovich dropped out just days after the September 13 primary due to health issues.

“It’s not how you want to be in the Senate, but that’s how it goes,” Murphy said.

Federal law enforcement agents seized the Murphy’s Taproom ATM during the March 2021 raids of several homes and businesses connected to Freeman’s activities. Freeman is accused of operating a multimillion money laundering scheme that helped facilitate online scammers, according to court documents.

Murphy said he has not been in contact with any federal law enforcement agency since the machine was removed.

Freeman’s criminal defense attorney, Mark Sisti, said Murphy may be called as a witness, but it is too early to say definitively. “I don’t know yet,” Sisti said.

 Murphy said he has not been contacted about being a potential witness.

Freeman has maintained he did nothing wrong selling the cryptocurrency through his churches and is adamant that he wants his day in court. Contacted last week, Freeman confirmed he had one of his Shire Free Church Bitcoin ATMs in Murphy’s Taproom since March of 2016.

Murphy said he was never directly involved in exchanging cash for Bitcoin or vice versa. The ATM was in the restaurant as a courtesy for some of his customers, he said.

“We had customers who wanted to pay with Bitcoin,” Murphy said. “This provided a way for them to convert their own money to Bitcoin easily.”

Murphy said he does not remember the exact details of the arrangement he had with Freeman, but said he did not make any money from the machine.

“Occasionally, they would hand me a little money to pay for the electricity. But there was no set fee for the arrangement,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s recollection runs counter to Freeman’s understanding of his own business. According to Freeman, his ATMs brought in money for the host business through a percentage of the total transactions.

“The Shire Free Church is not a business, but we obviously had to compensate our venues for the space/power/internet they provided,” Freeman said. “All our venues received one percent of gross sales from their machine. Many crypto vending machine operators only pay a flat fee per month to their venues. Our venues were very pleased with our arrangement as they did very well on busy months.”

Freeman took in millions of dollars through his Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs, according to court records. He allegedly used personal bank accounts and accounts for made-up churches like the Shire Free Church, the Crypto Church of NH, the Church of the Invisible Hand, and the Reformed Satanic Church, to operate his Bitcoin empire. Part of the scheme Freeman ran helped cyber criminals swindle money from victims of lonely heart scams, according to prosecutors.

Business was good and the government alleges Freeman has secreted away millions of dollars in cash and cryptocurrency.

Four of the other Crypto 6 defendants, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, Aria DiMezzo, and Nobody (also known as Rick Paul), have taken plea deals. The fifth suspect, Colleen Fordham, had her charges dropped earlier this year.

‘Crypto 6’ Freeman Vows to Fight On Despite Plea Agreements

And then there was one. 

Free Keene’s Ian Freeman is the last of the Crypto 6 suspects headed for trial after his co-defendant, self-described trans Satanic anarchist Aria DiMezzo filed a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in Concord.

DiMezzo, 34, will become the fourth suspect to take a plea, following Nobody, formerly known as Rich Paul, 55, Renee Spinella, 26, and Andrew Spinella, 36. The sixth suspect, Colleen Fordham, 63, had the charges against her dropped earlier this year.

Freeman is facing 30 indictments for the alleged scheme.

DiMezzo is pleading guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business that moved between $1.5 and $3.5 million. Her plea agreement states she could face up to five years in prison at sentencing, but will likely be sentenced to a lesser prison term under the deal.

DiMezzo’s attorney, Richard Guerriero, declined to comment before the hearing.

Freeman, 42, vowed to fight the charges against him at trial and blamed the government for persecuting DiMezzo.

“Despite not having any obligation to file any such paperwork in New Hampshire, the federal gang is saying that because Aria didn’t file ‘money transmitter’ papers with them, that now she will be a felon for the rest of her life and may spend years in prison,” Freeman said. “I don’t believe that there is an obligation to file as a money transmitter in order to sell bitcoin, and I’m looking forward to a jury’s decision on that.”

Freeman’s attorney, Mark Sisti, confirmed his client is not taking a plea deal and plans to go to trial.

Freeman is accused of taking in millions of dollars through their Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs with the help of DiMezzo and the others. Freeman reportedly used personal bank accounts and accounts for made-up churches like the Shire Free Church, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire, the Church of the Invisible Hand, and DiMezzo’s Reformed Satanic Church, in order to conduct the bitcoin businesses. He allegedly lied to banks in opening accounts for his churches and other businesses and got the others to open accounts on his behalf, according to court records. Part of the operation for Freeman was to help cyber criminals swindle money from lonely victims, according to the indictments.

Freeman is currently running for state Senate as a Republican.

Freeman, DiMezzo, and Nobody are all part of the Free Keene collective, an offshoot of the Free State Project. The Free State Project made a show of kicking Freeman out of the movement in 2014 after he repeatedly advocated for lowering the age of consent. The Free State Project is a Libertarian initiative to overtake the state’s government. Freeman is an advocate of seceding from the United States of America.

Third Crypto 6 Defendant Sentenced in Fraud Case

A third member of the so-called Crypto 6, Andrew Spinella, was sentenced to no jail time last week for his role in the alleged Bitcoin money laundering scheme. 

Spinella was sentenced on Aug. 30 to 18 months probation and a $600 fine in the United States District Court in Concord. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud earlier this year. His wife Renee Spinella, 26, was sentenced last week to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,000 in fines. She also previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Free Keene activist Nobody, formerly Rich Paul, 55, was sentenced to two years of supervised release last month.

That leaves just two of the original six defendants, Ian Freeman, 42, and Aria DiMezzo, 34, now headed for trial on more than 30 felony counts each. Colleen Fordham 62, of Alstead, had the charges against her dropped earlier this year.

Renee Spinella is Freeman’s ex-girlfriend, though the two stayed friendly after they split and after she married Andrew Spinella. The Spinellas reportedly opened bank accounts for Freeman to use as part of his multi-million Bitcoin money laundering operation, according to prosecutors.

Freeman and DiMezzo are accused of taking in millions of dollars through their Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs. The pair also used personal bank accounts and accounts for made-up churches like the Shire Free Church, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire, the Church of the Invisible Hand, and the Reformed Satanic Church, to conduct their Bitcoin businesses. The pair allegedly lied to banks in opening their accounts and got others to open accounts on their behalf, according to court records. Part of the operation for Freeman was to help cyber criminals swindle money from lonely victims, according to the indictments.

Freeman and DiMezzo are currently seeking to have some of the charges dismissed. A hearing on their motion to dismiss is set for Thursday.