As John D Powell took a plea deal and plead guilty to two charges of operating an unlicensed money service business, few court documents are available. The documents that are available depict an articulate man who experienced a run of misfortune prior to his involvement with Bitcoin.
In a letter to Judge Shadid, Mr Powell cites the break down of his marriage and stress of surviving an aortic dissection as explanation for his decision to operate an unlicensed Bitcoin exchange. One could be forgiven for mistaking Powell's letter as one penned by a murderer who is remorseful for his crimes and if as claimed by the State, Powell did process USD $3 million in Bitcoin, it's clear it was a beacon of light for him despite yielding to the court in his apology letter.
Powell's letter also shows that he lost an amount of coins when Mt.Gox collapsed.
Judge Shadid –
It's a well known adage that none of us know how much time we have left, and I may be more acutely aware of that than the average person. My heartbeat is not as dependable as it once was, and surviving an aortic dissection a few years ago intensified the mid-life crisis I was struggling with. I was indeed very lucky to still be alive, but to what end?
My marriage of twenty five years was being exposed as a sham, stretching back many years, coming to light. I realized I had a far less than satisfactory relationship with my only son because of mindless neglect on my part. I began a personal inventory of how I'd spent my life and it bothers me still, for I haven't yet had the time to make up for my self-centered, career-focused romp.
While recovering from my illness and reeling from the loss of my comfortable suburban lifestyle, I had time to think. And I had to admit to myself that I wasn't very happy after all.
It's no stretch to say that I'm far more ashamed of wasting my life in pursuit of materialism than for anything that has brought me to the attention of your court.
Change has come slowly, but I'm happy to recount how I've found deep contentment by turning attention to community, and away from self-centered endeavors. I have found redemption and renewal by devoting a large portion of my energy to helping those far less fortunate than myself.
I realize this presents a new and ironic challenge for me, since I'm now in a position where it's harder to provide for my own basic needs. But I can truly say that nothing else provides the joy and satisfaction of things like volunteering at the local homeless shelter or food panty.
This recovering sensation junkie has finally found his happy place. I just wish this epiphany had come to me earlier in life.
I know this may sound like some "jail house conversion", but I began to chronicle this new direction in a personal blog several years ago. It is date-stamped and published online at sharethezing.blogspot.com. I look forward to many more positive posts.
That is the good. Now for the bad and the ugly. I am truly sorry for the actions that have brought me before your court. I didn't take seriously my responsibilities with the business.
I already knew what I was going to do with any profits, but ended up losing even the original capital used to get it started. I had lost 20k when the Japan-based broker called Mt.Gox suddenly folded, and lost another 25k to market fluctuations over time, so the "business" was fundamentally idle when law enforcement came to see me.
I'm still happy to note that no one was ever cheated or shorted because my primary goal was to maintain a stellar reputation for fair trading.
I then had what is now easy to see as a foolish notion to eventually sell the business to one of the many much larger brokers in that realm.
Having said all that, I accept sole responsibility for my actions and lack of oversight.
My only request is that as part of my punishment, I be sent somewhere I can be of use – somewhere I can be of service and value to others, I still have a lot to give.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
John D. Powell
Other documents which were filed include:
- The Bitcoin wikipedia page.
- The Defendant's commentary on sentencing factors.
- The indictment.
- An exhibit and witness list which only includes a "group of photos".
- The Judgement.
Upon completion of his prison sentence, the conditions of Powell's supervised released include:
- Undertaking cognitive based therapy at his own cost, if financially able.
- Participation in psychiatric services or a mental health program as directed by the US Probation Office.
- Participation in a substance abuse treatment program which includes drug testing.
- Forbidden to operate a business or obtain employment which involves management of cash, credit, other financial instruments including "cyber-based currency" without prior approval of the US Probation Office. Powell must also disclose his conviction to potential employers.
Powell's inmate number is 72740-083.