Is Bitcoin money? Or, is it not? it is probably the most asked question whenever there is a lawsuit. In what comes as a relief to the accused in one particular case, the Miami judge has decided that Bitcoin is not money, thereby dismissing the money laundering suit faced by the accused Michell Espinoza.
According to reports, the presiding judge during the trial of Michell Espinoza, Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Bitcoin still has a long way to go before it can be considered as money. Michell was accused of illegally selling virtual currency amounting to what the police labelled laundering after he was caught with $1500 worth of bitcoin by undercover officers. The undercover officers had expressed their interest in buying bitcoin from him so that they can use it to buy stolen credit card numbers.
Michell was picked as a target to conduct the sting operation by the Police Department from the LocalBitcoins platform. They had met him along with his associate Pascal Reid. Reid had pled guilty upon his arrest for acting as a money broker without license. He was sentenced to probation which involved teaching the local police department about Bitcoin.
The trial of Michell Espinoza has been the center of attention as it was the first money laundering case involving Bitcoin and the outcome may set the precedent for many cases that may follow.
Tried in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, the trial had few expert witnesses describing how Bitcoin works. In the end, the judge decided that selling Bitcoin doesn’t constitute money laundering as the digital currency can’t be considered as money at this point. The judgement defines Bitcoin as property and there are no wrongdoings on Michell’s part for trying to sell his property to others. Even the IRS doesn’t consider bitcoin deals as buying and selling, but bartering. In the end, Michell Espinoza is one happy man.
Ref: Miami Herald