A former $3.4 billion Bitcoin thief on Silk Road is sentenced to one year in prison

A guy from Georgia was given a year in jail for stealing over 50,000 Bitcoin from the Silk Road market in 2012.

The United States Department of Justice said Friday that James Zhong has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role in a plot to steal more than 51,680 Bitcoin from the drug-trafficking website Silk Road.

The DOJ said that Zhong faces one count of wire fraud for his role in the theft of around 50,000 Bitcoin from the Silk Road dark web online marketplace.

The US government agency claims that in 2021, police in Gainesville, Georgia, raided Zhong’s house and found 50,676 bitcoin worth over $3.36 billion.

Notably, the DOJ did not publicize the seizure until November of last year, when it said that in the course of a surprise search on James Zhong’s house in 2021, they had uncovered roughly $3.36 billion in stolen bitcoin.

The stolen BTC was worth roughly $600,000 in 2012 when Bitcoin was selling at around $11. When devices containing the stolen Bitcoin were recovered by police in November 2021, its value skyrocketed, making it the second-largest financial seizure in US history.

Zhong pleaded guilty to wire fraud, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors allege that before Zhong’s arrest, he spent $16 million of the stolen BTC on investments in real estate, luxury hotels, nightclubs, and Lamborghinis.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams warned cybercriminals, “Cyber-criminals should heed this message: we will follow the money and hold you accountable, no matter how sophisticated your scheme and no matter how long it takes.”

Prosecutors, meantime, have requested a sentence of fewer than two years in jail due to the defendant’s young, autism, and cooperation in finding the stolen crypto.

Zhong was “severely bullied and victimized by his peers because he was different — he was extremely shy, overweight, and most significantly, suffered from undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder,” his attorneys said in court documents.

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