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Federal Judge Orders Accused Hacker to Post Bail in Bitcoin or Other Cryptocurrency

by Derek Gilna

Martin Marsich, a 25-year-old foreign national, was arrested on August 8, 2018, for hacking into Electronic Arts Company’s internal computer network and gaining access to approximately 25,000 customer accounts that are used to buy items for use in video games.

At his bond hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Corley, according to the website AMBCrypto, ordered the defendant to post a bond of $750,000 in either Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency to win his release to a halfway house. The court’s bail order, however, was not made available for public viewing. It is believed to be the first time that a federal judge has ordered that form of payment in a federal criminal court case.

Although the court ordered the bond to be paid by the use of digital currency, Assistant U.S. Attorney Abraham Simmons was initially amenable to that bond order stating, “The idea is to get [the defendant] to court, not necessarily to maintain the value of any particular asset, I would imagine that either side would alert the court of an extreme change in the value of the asset, but it doesn’t mean that the court would care one way or the other.”

However, not long after the initial bond hearing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had changed its tune, and filed a Memorandum with the court that indicated that it would not be able to accept Bitcoin. “Undersigned counsel was informed by Brenda Atkinson, Chief Legal Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that the agency will not maintain the defendant’s cryptocurrency as a bond due to liability issues. In addition, neither the Clerk of the Court nor the United States Marshals Services has the ability to maintain digital assets as a bond.”

At the next court hearing after the filing of the government’s memorandum, the court agreed to accept security in the amount of $200,000 to stand for the bond amount of $750,000. However, the legal world has been put on notice that federal judges will consider the posting of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency as a bond. 

Sources: ambcrypto.com, padailypost.com

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