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Florida judge rules bitcoin is not 'real' money, dismisses laundering case

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Thanks to one South Florida judge, there's now a precedent for legal Bitcoin money-laundering.

Declaring that the cryptocurrency is not money, Florida Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler on Friday dismissed charges against a Miami man who, in 2014, was allegedly attempting to use a cash-for-Bitcoin exchange to obtain stolen Russian credit card numbers, the Miami Herald  reports.

Bitcoins are not backed by anything. They are certainly not tangible wealth and cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars.
Florida Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler

The judge established that Bitcoin can only be considered virtual currency, and not actual money.  She then ruled that Florida lacks proper statutory outlines for virtual currency transactions.

"The Florida Legislature may choose to adopt statues regulating virtual currency in the future. At this time, however, attempting to fit the sale of Bitcoin into a statutory scheme regulating money services businesses is like fitting a square peg into a round hole," Judge Pooler wrote in her decision.

The money laundering statute would not apply in this case, because Bitcoins, as previously discussed, are not monetary instruments.
Florida Circuit Judge Teresa Pooler
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The defendant, Michell Espinoza, quite happy. (Photo: David Ovalle, Miami Herald)

The defendant, Michell Espinoza, seems happy with the ruling. (AP Photo)

At the federal level, the Justice Department is currently taking on a first-of-its-kind Bitcoin case. In March, a federal grand jury charged three New York men on two different indictments involving an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering.

The trial will be the first Bitcoin-related case in the Justice Department's Western District of New York, and its outcome could encourage more federal or statutory regulation for the virtual bucks.

This man got a double hand transplant, but his new hands have never worked

For more news of the day, check out our 60 Second Circa for Tuesday AM, July 26, 20916.

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