GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Leaders of tech-based organization The Geek Group have pled guilty to various financial crimes, U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced Monday.
Company president Christopher Allan Boden, 46, of Grand Rapids, pled guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering and structuring deposits to evade financial institution reporting requirements.
Company consultant Daniel Reynold DeJager, 35, of Tacoma, Washington, pled guilty to conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering.
Board member Leesa Beth Vogt, 37, of Grand Rapids, pled guilty to structuring while operating the unlicensed money transmitting business.
In February, federal charges of illegal Bitcoin trades and money laundering were filed against the defendants.
The Geek Group, also known as The National Science Institute, was located on Leonard Street NW near Alpine Avenue in Grand Rapids and registered as a nonprofit. In 2018, the building was raided by the IRS and Homeland Security Investigations.
The Geek Group shut down less than two weeks later. Boden said at the time that the organization faced several thousand dollars in debt and was unable to sustain operations anymore.
Court documents indicate The Geek Group was being marketed as a place for customers wanting to buy and sell Bitcoin. However, prosecutors say that the organization was not licensed with the U.S. Department of Treasury as a money services or transmitting business.
Prosecutors have alleged $740,000 in cryptocurrency was sold between March 2017 and December 2018.
While facing maximum fines of 10 or more years, the defendants may also face financial penalties.
“Cryptocurrency is not a license or invitation to commit crime,” said U.S. Attorney Birge. “Federal law regulates those who deal in cryptocurrency as it does those who deal in government-issued currency. We will root out and prosecute crypto criminals wherever we find them. Whether cryptocurrency will be with us for years to come remains to be seen, but its vitality is contingent upon the willingness of those who use it to follow the law.”
Vogt's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 17, DeJager's hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 and Boden's hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.
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