| NEW YORK, March 10
NEW YORK, March 10 Jurors in Manhattan federal
court on Friday prepared to weigh charges against a Florida
software engineer and a New Jersey pastor accused of scheming to
help an illegal bitcoin exchange escape scrutiny.
The unlicensed bitcoin exchange, Coin.mx, was linked to an
investigation of a data breach at JPMorgan Chase & Co
that exposed more than 83 million accounts. The company
disclosed the breach in 2014.
Prosecutors claim that Yuri Lebedev helped arrange bribes to
pastor Trevon Gross, including $150,000 in donations to his
church. In exchange, they say, Gross helped the operator of
Coin.mx, Anthony Murgio, take over a small credit union Gross
ran from his church.
Murgio used the credit union to evade scrutiny of banks wary
of processing payments involving the virtual currency,
prosecutors say. Lebedev is accused of working for Coin.mx
through a front called "Collectables Club."
But lawyers for Lebedev, 39, and Gross, 47, have painted a
different picture, saying their clients did not know that Murgio
was running an illegal operation.
In a closing statement on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Eun Young Choi reviewed numerous text messages, emails and voice
recordings presented to jurors during the four-week trial, which
she said proved that Lebedev and Gross acted with "corrupt
Lebedev's lawyer, Eric Creizman, in his closing statement
called the evidence a "hodgepodge" designed to "maximize the
smoke" around Lebedev.
"But if you look behind the smoke, there's no fire there,"
Henry Klingeman, Gross' lawyer, likewise said his client
"never thought, at the time these things were happening, that he
was doing anything illegal."
In a rebuttal delivered on Friday morning, Assistant U.S.
Attorney Daniel Noble again urged the jury to consider what he
called a "mountain of documentary evidence."
The trial followed a probe rooted in the JPMorgan data
breach, which lead to charges against nine people.
Gross, Lebedev and Murgio were not accused of hacking. But
prosecutors said Coin.mx was owned by an Israeli who was behind
the breach, Gery Shalon.
Prosecutors say Shalon, together with Maryland-born Joshua
Samuel Aaron, orchestrated cyber attacks that resulted in the
theft of information from more than 100 million people.
Prosecutors said they carried out the hacks to further other
schemes with another Israeli, Ziv Orenstein, including pumping
up stock prices with promotional emails. Shalon, Aaron and
Orenstein have pleaded not guilty.
Murgio pleaded guilty to charges related to Coin.mx in
January. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)