Judge Rules Bitcoin Isn't Money Because It "Can't be Hidden Under A Mattress"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Everett Numbers via TheAntiMedia.org,

In a landmark decision, a Florida judge dismissed charges of money laundering against a Bitcoin seller on Monday following expert testimony showing state law did not apply to the cryptocurrency.

Michell Espinoza was charged with three felony charges related to money laundering in 2014, but what appears to have helped to clear him of any and all wrongdoing was testimony given just a few weeks ago by an economics professor.

“This is the most fascinating thing I’ve heard in this courtroom in a long time,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler said after hearing Barry University professor Charles Evans present evidence during a May hearing that Bitcoin was more akin to“poker chips that people are willing to buy from you,” according to theMiami Herald.

Evans was given $3,000 in Bitcoin by defense attorneys for sharing his expertise, the newspaper reported.

Judge Pooler found the cryptocurrency, which is based on verified encrypted transactions that are recorded on a public ledger, did not constitute “tangible wealth” and“cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars,” reported the Herald.

Pooler added that Bitcoin was not codified by government, nor backed by any bank.

“The court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it the equivalent of money,” Pooler wrote in her decision.


“This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning,” she added.

Espinoza, 33, was charged after undercover detectives bought $1,500 worth of Bitcoin from him, claiming they would use the currency to purchase stolen credit card numbers. However, Judge Pooler found the Florida law prosecutors based their case upon to be too “vague.”

Another man, Pascal Reid, was arrested in tandem with Espinoza. Reid took an early plea deal, pleading guilty to acting as an unlicensed money broker. The deal required him to serve a probation sentence and educate law enforcement on the workings of Bitcoin.

While Monday’s ruling comes as a relief to Espinoza, it remains to be seen what comes next in Bitcoin regulation. States continue to grapple with the issue, and at the federal level, regulation has stalled.  But Bitcoin enthusiasts have recently been more optimistic about a price surge, so the powers that be may move quickly if the virtual currency’s popularity resurges.

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samsara's picture

If the bankers had their way, you could say that about the dollar and euro

And in the same breath he said that dollars like Gold IS money.

Hear that benicky?

erkme73's picture

calling Aristotle... Obscured spam link needed...

SoilMyselfRotten's picture

The Supreme Court does have an opening...

gargoylian's picture
gargoylian (not verified) SoilMyselfRotten Jul 26, 2016 10:07 PM

And the money that can be hidden under the mattress is a worthless piece of paper. Go figure.


Seek_Truth's picture

Thanks for not obscuring the link.

That is all.

For now.

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

"...was charged after undercover detectives bought $1,500 worth of Bitcoin from him, claiming they would use the currency to purchase stolen credit card numbers."

Surprise, surprise, yet another fed entrapment sting. They probably had to explain bitcoin to him, teach him how to get it, and no doubt gave him the 1500 he then sold to them.

They should really stick to giving explosives and guns to mentally unstable people, it makes them look better. And results in bigger budgets.


wildbad's picture

go ahead, ban it.  i'll still use it.

Tall Tom's picture





If they move to ban it then the price will soar.


I might buy some at a point right before that.


There is no way of enforcing it.

FreezeThese's picture
FreezeThese (not verified) Tall Tom Jul 27, 2016 6:58 AM

It is humorous they've reached the point where to gain knowledge of something that baffles and harasses them, they create a sting, that which has no legal backing, to lure one who may or may not know about it, bring it to, and ultimately fail, in court, yet gain a pawn via plea deal. 

That guy feels like a certified idiot.

czr5014's picture

The funny thing is that you can hide it under the mattress

Colonel Klink's picture

But enough about Ruth Bader Ginsburg!

Nobodys Home's picture

You are he and mofio and santafe etc.....you erkme too,

Perimetr's picture

Judge Pooler was later seen driving in her new Lamborghini

reportedly purchased

with a large quantity of bitcoin.

Lynx Dogood's picture

This is really funny! Will see how long that will last. What is they can't tax stuff, not under your mattress?

junction's picture

Next, I expect a judge to rule that derivatives are not money, since they have no tangible value, are created from algorithms, are backed by non-existent hard assets, cannot be easily converted to cash and are more akin to gold plated tungsten bars then anything else. Then, there will be fireworks when the FDIC has to come up with the $22 trillion of insurance it issued to Bank of America three years ago on the Merrill Lynch derivatives Bank of America acquired when it took over Merrill Lynch.

Sam.Spade's picture

Actually, derivatives are not money, they are financial instruments.  Ditto for bonds.

If you can't spend it, it's not money.  Trading doesn't count.

What's the difference?  One is a self-limiting transaction between two 'individuals', the other an element of a commercial web that keeps our civilization alive.

Not sure what I am talking about?  Then you REALLY need to read Thieves Emporium.

Pumpkin's picture

If you can't spend it, it's not money.  Trading doesn't count.


When you buy something, don't you trade your money for what you bought?  FRNs are financial instruments also.

Sam.Spade's picture

If you exchange it with someone who takes it, not because he wants it, but because he knows he can give it to his landlord for rent, then it is part of a network of continious exchanges that make it money.  If, on the other hand, he takes it because he plans on eating it or thinks that he might be able to trade it with someone else somewhere sometime for a profit, then it is a self-limiting transaction just between the two of you.  A trade, not a monetary exchange.

Read Theives Emporium.  The concept is explained quite well there.

lincolnsteffens's picture

Federal Reserve Notes are debt obligations, not money. Currency is not necessarily money but can be used like money.  As a debt obligation is negative or the opposite of money, the use of Federal Reserve Notes in any money laundering scheme should technically, by this case's definition, thwart a criminal charge.  You can put Federal Reserve Notes under your mattress but if you leave it there long enough its use value may drop to zero.

bluskyes's picture

what is coin issued by the treasury?

Al Gophilia's picture

As long as it's gold, then it's no one elses obligation. What I don't understand is why treasury has to emit coins in the first place.

JohnG's picture


Becaue the founders KNEW all the dangers of fiat currency, and limitinf the issuace of COIN in SILVER and GOLD  in the constitition prevented this until the FRAUD that is the federal reserve act was passed in the night.

This fraud is the primary reason we are in the shit we are in today, perverting ONEY into debt.

Spartacus Rex's picture

Actually, the "primary reason" that so many are in the sh*t today,

is that no one wants to take the time to actually read and follow the simple laws on the books

which would allow them to avoid being clipped every year by the Banksters and their Collection Agency, the IRS

Fortunately for the intelligent,

the US $ (dollar) is explicitly defined and expressed in Statutory Law.

So is the Mandate which requires fiat FRNs to be redeemed into lawful money $ (dollars) in the United States Code under Title 12

And the best part, the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26) in the United States Code, provides for the massive tax write off/deduction for those wise enough to redeem their fiat FRN debt currency back into lawful money US $ within the same year which they received such, thus eliminating annual / dreaded Federal "Income Tax" liabilities.

Those who think Education is expensive, 

wait until you add up how much Ignorance costs.

Ignorantia Juris Neminem Excusat / Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat



S. Rex

bluskyes's picture

Is there debt backing the copper clad tokens used today? Coins exist to give the notes redeemability.

Sam.Spade's picture

Maybe a good legal definition for Florida, but not one that will have much influence on the general discussion.  On the other hand, if all you do is chant 'Gold Is The Only Money', you'll lose your liberal friends before you ever begin discussing the underlying issues.  Like it or not, they KNOW that what they use to buy their groceries, fill their tanks, and pay their rent with IS money.

So start your battle on their terms and work your way back to the real truths.

How?  See my post later on in this blog for details.

Learn to argue smart or you will lose them in your first sentence.

JohnG's picture


Fuck 'em, et them starve in the collapse.

Shift For Brains's picture

Exactly where I am with this and many other issues after years and years of trying. I've done my bit. I can walk toward the Light knowing I did my best. You can't save a drowning man who doesn't want to be saved. And when the drowning man is a total fucking moron, he won't even notice he's drowning.

Let him go. I have some rice I need to steam.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

This is good news. While I am not a fan of Bitcoin per say, I do wish to see alternatives to state script flourish. Bitcoin doesn't need The State for legitmacy. Nor do we. Any ability to stay off the farm is for the best.

anarchitect's picture

Better news would have been the judge throwing the case out on the grounds that "money laundering" isn't a crime.  If money is illegally obtained, prosecution should be for the illegal act.  "Money laundering" is like civil forfeiture in that no underlying crime has to be proven.  It's just another charge that can be heaped on to entice a plea bargain.

cpnscarlet's picture

There was something Ben Bernanke said wasn't money either, what the hell was that stuff???

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) Jul 26, 2016 9:50 PM

"The deal required him to serve a probation sentence and educate law enforcement on the workings of Bitcoin."

Wow. Bitcoin isn't money because you can't stash it. What the fuck was this judge smoking because I want some!

Redhotfill's picture

If you can't touch it, you don't own it.  If you don't own it how can it be money?  The title of money passes to whoever HOLDS it.

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) Redhotfill Jul 27, 2016 2:55 AM

Oh goody someone that has read enough of my comments to quote them back to me!

The title for Bitcoin is the password or key. If you have that password or key you own it.

As far as money? Who the fuck knows.

You have something I want, I have something you want, and either we come to an agreement or we pay a middleman to sort out a price in the middle and an exchange is made. At least that is the way honest people conduct transactions. Some people, and some governments, simply take what they want (otherwise known as stealing) which is quite rude.

As far as certainty and peace of mind, nothing gives me more peace of mind than PMs. Bitcoin is like going to the casino. A little bit fun, a little bit dangerous, a little bit of excitement. Personally I have not dipped my toe into the Bitcoin pool, yet. Will I decide to give it a go? No idea. Still observing. There is an old story about a race between a turtle and a hare. I was born in the year of the Rabbit; however, I tend to wobble along as a turtle. Slow and steady.

commander gruze?'s picture

Let me know when you decide to get your boots dirty with bitcoin. It's actually quite easy to start, the real difficulty comes later whe you need to do some learning - bitcoin, being unlike anything else out there is quirky as hell and it takes time to wrap one's head around its ideas and implications.

Anyhow, you can start by installing any bitcoin wallet app on a mobile. Make a backup copy immediately. Then paste me the autogenerated address (starts with digit 1) and I'll be able to zip you some across.

valjoux7750's picture

Or simply open a coinbase account and store your coins there until you figure it out. You can also get a debit card from coinbase tied to your bitcoin. I use mine daily.

Pseudonymous's picture


What the fuck was this judge smoking because I want some!

I don't know, but I bet you can buy it with bitcoins.

Anopheles's picture

That story is exceptionally distorted to IMPLY things that aren't true.

The real story is that the judge made a decision based on the State criminal law relating to that particular criminal transaction.  It's the LAW which is vague, and not bitcoin itself.  Since the LAW I'm guessing is old and out of date, it doesn't recognize advances in cryptocurrency.

I'll bet that an updated law is being written as we speak, to close that loophole. 

Nylsaar's picture

From what I gather from the confusing article is that the State of Florida attempted to convict a person for having knowledge that a crime was to be commited.  Undercover agents purchased the Bitcoin and claimed they would use it to buy stolen credit card numbers. 

If this is the case, then wouldn't the undercover officer's superiors also be in legal jeopardy by having knowledge of entrapment?

It seems  to me that someone got lucky the judge didn't know that property and "what you put under the bed" are quite similar.

ACES FULL's picture

So THAT is where Fonestar has been, awaiting trial.

JuliaS's picture

Fonestar died of cryptosyphilis years ago.

RadioFlyer's picture
RadioFlyer (not verified) JuliaS Jul 27, 2016 5:20 AM

that cryptosex will do that to you. Gotta keep your junk out of the dark web.

SillySalesmanQuestion's picture

Sooooo, if that's the case, I would like my employer to start paying me in Bitcoin, so I won't have to pay taxes on it...

Anopheles's picture

The judge made a ruling based on the definition of money in a State law relating to a criminal transaction.

I'll guess that the IRS has a much broader, federal definition of what's "money" and/or "compensation" .  You could of course try it with the IRS.  Let us know what the view is like through the bars of your 6 x 8 foot cell......

trumpchain's picture

www.steemit.com is where the bitcoiners are keeping their real money nowadays anyways

ebworthen's picture

Now the Judge just needs to extend the ruling to fiat bills and coins whose value can be sent into nothingness by Ctrl+P of the FED/Treasury printing press and eventual default on U.S. Bonds.

Not to mention the unhinging of said fiat currency from the tangible immutable value of Gold and Silver.

Which means that Gold and Silver are the only true measure of value.

Must wait for World>Central Banking>Out of ass.

TradingIsLifeBrah's picture
TradingIsLifeBrah (not verified) Jul 26, 2016 10:00 PM

Well that gets rid of the option for digital currency only

KickIce's picture

So this means they can never outlaw cash, right?