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Florida v. Espinoza

F-14-2923 (July 22, 2016)

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Florida v. Espinoza

Florida Circuit Court

F-14-2923 (July 22, 2016)

Facts

Miami Beach police detective Ricardo Arias worked with a United States Secret Service electronic-crimes task force that was investigating the purchase and sale of the cryptocurrency bitcoin in South Florida. As part of the investigation, Arias posed as a bitcoin buyer and initiated a bitcoin purchase from Michell Espinoza (defendant). During the first meeting between Espinoza and Arias, Espinoza said that he purchased bitcoin at 10 percent below market value and then sold it at 5 percent above market value to make a profit. Arias subsequently purchased bitcoin from Espinoza two more times. He then contacted Espinoza and said that he wanted to purchase $30,000 in bitcoin. When Arias and Espinoza met to complete that transaction, Arias told Espinoza that Arias was involved in selling stolen credit cards, and Arias produced a roll of $30,000 in counterfeit bills. Espinoza became suspicious of the money and told Arias that he would need to take the money to five different banks because he purchased the bitcoin from five different sellers. Espinoza never took possession of the money and was arrested. The State of Florida (plaintiff) charged Espinoza with money laundering and unlawfully engaging in an unlicensed money-services business as a money transmitter or payment-instrument seller. Espinoza moved to dismiss the charges.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pooler, J.)

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