The Ethereum developer and WikiScanner founder is still imprisoned for his presentation at a blockchain conference in North Korea in 2019.
A Sudden Guilty Plea
As an American citizen, getting accused of conspiring with North Korea can get you into some serious trouble. Just ask 38-Year old Virgil Griffith. Also known as RomanPoet, Griffith was arrested in November 2019 after giving a presentation at a North Korean cryptocurrency conference in April the same year.
Almost two years after the arrest, Griffith suddenly pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act on Monday in New York.
In the 11th Hour
Considering his attorneys and the prosecutors both were in their final stages of preparation for a big trial, the plea deal came as a surprise. His decision was made over the weekend according to documents. With a jury about to be finalized on the following Monday morning, it was really in the 11th hour.
A Decision to Be Expected in January 2022
Monday’s agreement caps off nearly two years of legal back-and-forth between attorneys for the prosecution and Griffith. According to public filings, defense attorneys repeatedly requested clarity about the charges being brought.
The newly struck plea deal could mean Griffith having to serve between 63-78 months in prison. With a sentencing coming in January of 2022, the remainder of this year should be a hoot.
Despite having been released on bail in 2020, Griffith is currently locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Known for being a very run down and dangerous prison, Griffith’s defense team requested a transfer to a better facility after having entered the guilty plea. Struggling with his health, Griffith is hoping for an empathic judge to grant his wishes.
The reason for his imprisonment was due to a violation of his bail conditions. Looking to pay his defense team earlier this summer, Griffith wanted to do so by accessing his Coinbase holdings. The prosecutors saw this as a violation of his agreement and he was sent back to prison.