Samourai Wallet Co-Founder Keonne Rodriguez Pleads Not Guilty, Released on $1M Bond

BY Coindesk | CORPORATE | 04/29/24 04:05 PM EDT By Cheyenne Ligon

NEW YORK ? Samourai Wallet co-founder Keonne Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to two criminal charges tied to creating and marketing the privacy-focused bitcoin wallet application and mixing service in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday.

Rodriguez, 35, and his Samourai Wallet co-founder William Lonergan Hill, 65, were arrested last week ? Rodriguez in Pennsylvania and Hill in Portugal ? and charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years and five years, respectively.

Prosecutors have alleged that, between 2015 and the seizure of Samourai Wallet?s servers last week, the app ?facilitated more than $100 million in money laundering transactions from illegal dark web markets,? and around $2 billion total in ?unlawful transactions.?

The arrests and shutdown of Samourai Wallet come as the U.S. government prepares for its case against Tornado Cash developer Roman Storm, and have led to an outcry among many in the crypto industry, who believe the case is a sign the government is attempting to criminalize financial privacy.

In the Department of Justice?s (DOJ) press release announcing the pair?s arrest last week, prosecutors said that Rodriguez and Hill ?encouraged and openly invited users to launder criminal proceeds? and considered ?restricted markets? to be a target demographic.

Rodriguez was initially arrested around 6 a.m. at his home in Harmony, Penn. on April 24. He was subsequently released by a Pennsylvania judge on a $25,000 bond and ordered to present himself before a magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on Monday morning.

Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses ruled to release Rodriguez on a $1 million bond on Monday, accepting the conditions set in a bail package that both federal prosecutors and Rodriguez?s lawyers ? Sean Buckley and Michael Keilty of international law firm Kobre Kim ? had agreed to.

Rodriguez?s bond will be secured by real estate in Pennsylvania and the signature of his wife and another family member. Other than traveling to and from court proceedings, Rodriguez will remain at home and will be monitored by location tracking technology.

Rodriguez?s next hearing will be in Manhattan on May 14 at 2 p.m. in front of District Judge Richard Berman.

Berman oversaw Mango Markets exploiter Avraham Eisenberg?s trial earlier this year.

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