Freeman found guilty on all counts in federal crypto-currency trial

Dec. 23—A federal jury convicted Bitcoin trader, libertarian activist and radio personality Ian Freeman on all felony charges Thursday related to his cryptocurrency business.

Freeman, 42, of Keene was found guilty on all counts of money laundering, conspiracy to launder money, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, and four counts of tax evasion, federal prosecutors announced.

Prosecutors claim that Freeman, formerly known as Ian Bernard, ran a money-laundering business that catered to scammers and other criminals and had them make cash donations to Keene area churches and converted that into Bitcoin. In doing so, Freeman charged higher than normal transaction fees.

Freeman is a Free Keene activist who hosts a weekly Liberty-oriented internet radio program.

Four other co-defendants pleaded guilty.

Freeman's defense attorney, Mark Sisti, did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the verdict on Thursday.

Prosecutors argued over the course of the 10-day trial, Freeman laundered over $10 million in proceeds of romance scams and other internet frauds by exchanging U.S. dollars for bitcoin. By charging exorbitant fees, Freeman made in excess of $1 million, prosecutors said.

Records and exhibits presented in court show Freeman and his co-conspirators opened and operated accounts at financial institutions in the names of various churches including the Shire Free Church, the Church of the Invisible Hand, the Crypto Church of New Hampshire and the NH Peace Church.

Freeman instructed bitcoin customers, often victims of scams, to lie to the financial institutions and describe their deposits as church donations. Prosecutors said from 2016 to 2019 Freeman paid no taxes and concealed his income from the Internal Revenue Service.

Freeman is facing a sentence of more than eight years in jail. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14, 2023.

He was not taken into custody pending his sentencing date, officials said.

pfeely@unionleader.com