Libertarians Outraged After Party Member Jailed for Using Bitcoin
The United States Libertarian Party has formally condemned the federal government after a court sentenced a Louisiana man to four years in prison for using Bitcoin.
Libertarian Sentenced to Prison for Using Bitcoin
According to a press release from the Libertarian Party (LP), Louisiana-based member Randall Lord received a 46-month prison sentence for operating an unregistered money services business using bitcoin.
Condemning the federal government for their actions, the LP said:
“Trading bitcoins is perfectly legal. Major retailers such as Microsoft, Expedia, Dell, Overstock, and Whole Foods accept bitcoins.”
The party went on to say that prosecutors “targeted” Lord for using bitcoin without a license, which they claim Lord did not need in the state of Louisiana.
Additionally, the LP claimed that Lord filed for federal registration with FinCEN, but that bureaucrats misplaced his paperwork. In its press release, the party suggested that FinCEN purposely misplaced Lord’s paperwork in order to set him up for prosecution.
“Every aspect of this case is a travesty,” the press release said, moving on to liken Lord’s case to Ross Ulbricht, who received a life sentence for operating the Silk Road marketplace on the darknet.
The party also denounced the federal government for indirectly creating a demand for Bitcoin, then attacking people trying to fill the financial gap left by the government’s policies of monetary manipulation.
In closing, the Libertarians called for an overturn of Lord’s sentencing, as well as the repeal of the “onerous laws and regulations” used against Lord.
Lord was an active member of the US Libertarian Party, even running for a seat in the US House of Representatives in the 2012 and 2014 elections.
Regulatory Confusion has Led to Legal Trouble for Bitcoiners in the Past
Lord’s case echoes similar stories in other parts of the United States. Most notably, the case of Michell Espinoza in Florida caused outrage in the bitcoin community. Espinoza received money laundering charges for selling US $1,500 worth of bitcoin to undercover detectives. Those detectives reportedly told Espinoza that they intended to use the bitcoin to purchase stolen credit card numbers.
Ultimately, Judge Teresa Mary Pooler threw out the case, ruling that bitcoin did not fall under the category of money. Therefore, Espinoza could not receive punishment for using bitcoin to launder money.
Commenting on the vagueness of Florida’s standing money laundering statute, Pooler wrote:
“This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning”
Randall Lord was not so lucky, however, and will be spending the next four years in prison — much to the dismay of his friends in the Libertarian Party.
Do you think Randall Lord deserves prison time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via Pixabay, Libertarian Party