The epic lawsuit against a hipster New York couple who allegedly got $3.6 billion in stolen bitcoins has taken a more mysterious turn.
Court filings prepared Wednesday by U.S. prosecutors in the case against Ilya Lichtenstein and his eccentric rapper wife Heather Morgan said the investigation now concerns “classified national security information and documents.” It was made clear that
The filing reveals little about what the classified information entails, but prosecutors have previously said the couple were in serious escape risk because Lichtenstein retains Russian citizenship. had claimed to have traveled extensively in Ukraine before being arrested earlier this year.
Prosecutors said the couple had the apparent intention of collecting documents, opening bank accounts and migrating to the country under a false identity during their stay. This trip took place before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The filing sought a judge’s approval to set up specific protocols for allowing the couple’s attorneys to view confidential materials.
A Justice Department spokeswoman and a lawyer for Lichtenstein declined to comment. Morgan’s attorney did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
A federal judge finally agreed to hold 34-year-old Lichtenstein without bail, and he remains in custody. Morgan, 32, has been under house arrest in New York since being released in February after posting his $3 million bail. Both have claimed innocence.
The couple were arrested that month after investigators tracked billions of dollars in bitcoin
It was stolen from the Bitfinex currency exchange in a 2016 hack. They have been charged with conspiring to launder money and defraud the U.S. government, but have not been charged with committing the actual theft.
When hackers stole about 120,000 bitcoins from the Bitfinex currency exchange in 2016, they were worth about $71 million. When Lucre was first seized, its value ballooned to about $4.5 billion. Today it’s worth less than $2 billion.
At the time, prosecutors said the couple still had access to accounts containing hundreds of millions of dollars in accrued funds, even though investigators seized $3.6 billion in stolen bitcoin from a cryptocurrency wallet controlled by the couple. He claimed to have thought
According to prosecutors, this created serious problems for the couple, who allegedly struggled for years to launder their ever-growing pile of money.
The case received widespread attention due to the inquisitive nature of the defendant, who had worked in the world of high-tech startups and cryptocurrencies.
A serial entrepreneur from California, Morgan also maintained an alter ego as the “Irreverent Comedy Rapper” known as Razlekhan behind a string of off-kilter songs and videos. Lichtenstein was also nicknamed “Dutch”.