Two of the six people charged with laundering money using Bitcoin sales and Granite Stater Ian Freeman’s libertarian churches are taking plea deals, leaving their alleged co-conspirators legally exposed.
Renee Spinella, 25, and her husband Andrew Spinella, 37, both from Derry, filed notices this week in United States District Court in Concord that they plan to change their current not guilty pleas to guilty.
The Spinellas were arrested last year by federal law enforcement agents who were targeting Freeman, 42, and his libertarian activist cohorts based in Keene. Freeman is alleged to have operated a multi-million-dollar money-laundering scheme that used Bitcoin transactions and phony donations to the various churches he and others started to launder money for criminals.
Freeman, the Spinellas, Colleen Fordham, 62, of Alstead, Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), 54, of Keene, and Aria DiMezzo, 36, of Keene, are all charged with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. Freeman and the Spinellas are also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and several other charges.
If the Spinellas are cooperating with authorities, as is typical for such plea agreements, that could spell trouble for Freeman and the other defendants. David Vicinanzo, a former first assistant U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire, said plea deals in conspiracy cases are bad news for the remaining defendants.
“If they are charged together in a common conspiracy, the guilty pleas of some defendants suggest that those defendants will be called as witnesses against the remaining defendants. The ‘code of silence’ may be crumbling, as the government strengthens its case with the information and testimony of insiders who know what happened because they participated,” he said.
Rene Spinella used to be Freeman’s girlfriend and seemingly remained friendly with him after they went their separate ways. The pair even shared ownership of a dog after the split.
While Freeman has denied criminal wrongdoing, the testimony of his former girlfriend and her current husband could prove troubling for his defense.
Freeman is a long-time libertarian activist who first moved to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. The official Free State Project distanced itself from Freemen in 2014 when he repeatedly used his radio show to call for lowering the age of consent for sexual activity.
In 2015, federal agents raided Freeman’s Keene home and seized dozens of computers and other devices as part of an investigation into the alleged possession of child sex abuse images. No charges were ever brought in the case. Freeman filed a lawsuit last week against the FBI agent who obtained the search warrant.
The defendant named Nobody did jail time for a drug conviction in 2014 and has run for mayor of Keene and governor. He was held the longest in jail after the money laundering arrest last year, due in part to his threats against law enforcement.
DiMezzo, who describes herself as a trans satanic anarchist, ran for Cheshire County sheriff as a Republican in 2020.
Freeman and DiMezzo both started churches that the indictments claim they used as part of the money-laundering scheme. According to the court records, since 2016, the defendants have operated a multi-million business that enabled criminal customers to exchange over ten million dollars in fiat currency for virtual currency, charging a fee for their service. They operated their virtual currency exchange business using websites, as well as operating virtual currency ATMs in New Hampshire.
Prosecutors have said Freeman knew he was laundering ill-gotten money from criminals. The indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations. Additionally, the indictment alleges that some defendants opened bank accounts in the names of purported religious entities, like DiMezzo’s Satanic Temple.
Agents took dozens of guns and close to $200,000 in cash out of Freeman’s Keene homes during the March 2021 raid. He was estimated to have more than $1.6 million in cryptocurrency at his disposal, according to court records.
Change of plea hearings for the Spinellas are set for Tuesday in Concord.