Keene residents arrested in federal virtual-currency probe

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Caleb Symons, The Keene Sentinel, N.H.
·3 min read
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Mar. 16—Six New Hampshire residents, including three from Keene and one from Alstead, were arrested today and charged with participating in a conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, in addition to other offenses.

Keene residents Aria DiMezzo, Ian Freeman and a man whose legal name is Nobody (formerly Richard Paul) were among those arrested in the federal probe, as was Alstead resident Colleen Fordham.

DiMezzo, Freeman and Nobody are locally known activists and have all run for public office. Last year, Nobody ran unsuccessfully for governor, and DiMezzo and Freeman lost races for Cheshire County sheriff and an N.H. House of Representatives seat representing Keene, respectively.

Freeman, 40, Nobody, 52, and Fordham, 60, are also charged with wire fraud and participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Freeman and DiMezzo, 34, are charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. And Freeman is charged with money laundering and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise.

Acting United States Attorney for New Hampshire John J. Farley announced the charges in a news release Tuesday afternoon. The six individuals, who also include Derry residents Andrew and Renee Spinella, were indicted by a federal grand jury in New Hampshire, the release states.

Prosecutors allege that the six people charged have run a business since 2016 that enabled customers to exchange over $10 million in fiat, or government-issued, currency for virtual currency, charging a fee for their service.

The six individuals operated the business online and at virtual currency ATM machines in New Hampshire, according to the release. The indictment alleges that they knowingly operated the virtual currency exchange business in violation of federal anti-money laundering laws and regulations, the release states.

The indictment also alleges that some of the six individuals opened bank accounts in the names of religious entities and tried to prevent their scheme from being detected, according to the release. It says those individuals avoided answering banks' questions about the nature of their business and misled the banks into believing that it was a religious organization receiving charitable contributions.

All six individuals were arrested Tuesday, the release states.

FBI agents conducted several investigations in Keene Tuesday morning, including at 73-75 Leverett St. and at two properties on Route 101. Those properties are linked to the libertarian-leaning activist group known as Free Keene, which several of those arrested are associated with.

The Route 101 investigations were at 661 Marlboro Road and 659 Marlboro Road, which is owned by Shire Free Church Holdings LLC. That entity also owned the Leverett Street house until ownership was transferred in 2014 to Shire Free Church Monadnock.

The N.H. Secretary of State's office lists Freeman as chairman of Shire Free Church Monadnock's board of directors and its main address is listed as 73-75 Leverett St.

The FBI also conducted an investigation at My Campus Convenience, at 152 Winchester St, on Tuesday morning. An employee at the store, who declined to share their name, said agents removed a Bitcoin ATM from the store.

FBI spokeswoman Kristen Setera told The Sentinel in an email that all six people charged Tuesday had been taken into custody by the agency that morning. All six were scheduled for initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on Tuesday afternoon.

Caleb Symons can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1420, or csymons@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @CalebSymonsKS.