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Virgil Griffith seeks commutation of sentence for helping North Korea with Blockchain technology

Griffith argues that his actions were intended to promote peaceful exchanges, not to support the North Korean regime.

Date: 2024-04-18 Author: Łukasz Michałek
Virgil Griffith seeks commutation of sentence for helping North Korea with Blockchain technology

Former Ethereum programmer Virgil Griffith , who was sentenced to 63 months in prison in 2022 for helping North Korea use blockchain technology, has requested a reduced sentence.

The plea was made in a letter from Griffith’s attorney, Glen Garrett McGorty, to Judge Kevin Castel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 17.

The letter advocates a review of Griffith’s sentence based on recent changes to the US sentencing guidelines. These changes include a provision for a two-point reduction in the offense level for certain offenders. Griffith’s legal team argues that he qualifies for this reduction according to certain criteria.

Griffith sentenced to 63 months in prison

Griffith was originally sentenced to 63 months in prison and paid a $100,000 fine in April 2022 after pleading guilty to violating US sanctions laws.

His crime involved attending a conference in North Korea and helping the country use blockchain technology, despite economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

The requested reduction of Griffith’s sentence would reduce his total offense level from 26 to 24. This would result in a corresponding adjustment of his sentence guideline range to 51-63 months, potentially reducing his sentence by a year or more.

In its letter, Griffith’s defense team urges the court to instruct the U.S. Probation Office to prepare a revised pre-sentence investigation report and schedule a re-sentencing hearing.

They are also seeking a briefing to present updated information and arguments in support of their reduction request.

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“Zero-point offender,” as defined by the revised guidelines, means a first-time, non-violent offender whose offense shows a lower risk of recidivism compared to others. Griffith’s defense argues that he falls into this category.

In addition to the prison term, Griffith was also facing a 10-year ban on export privileges imposed by the US Department of Commerce in May 2023.

The ban prohibited him from engaging in any transactions involving goods, software or technology subject to U.S. export regulations. The ban was imposed while he was serving the first year of his five-year sentence.

Tornado Cash Developer disputes charges

Last month, Roman Storm, co-founder of cryptocurrency company Tornado Cash, filed a motion to dismiss all three charges against him, claiming that he did not engage in money laundering and did not violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Storm’s lawyers argued that he could not be charged with conspiring to launder money.

According to Storm’s legal team, Tornado Cash was developed, became immutable and was publicly available before it was used by hacking groups sanctioned by the US Treasury Department.

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Łukasz Michałek
Łukasz Michałek
Founder of the rapidly developing cryptocurrency channel "Biblia Kryptowalut" on YouTube. He also co-creates the Arena Trading group with Marek. Łukasz is fascinated and passionate about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, which constitute the central element of his activity in the cryptocurrency industry.
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