US Rejects Ethereum Developer’s Appeal for Reduced Sentence


Ethereum Dev’s Sentence Reduction Request Opposed by Prosecutors

Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith faces continued legal challenges as US prosecutors oppose his motion to reduce his 2022 sentence for violating North Korean sanctions.

In a June 17th filing with the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, US Attorney Damian Williams argued against any leniency. He urged the judge to deny Griffith’s request for a sentence reduction to as low as 51 months.

Originally sentenced in April 2022 to 63 months in prison and a $100,000 fine, Griffith’s projected release date stands at January 2026, considering pre-sentencing detention.

“Griffith deliberately circumvented US sanctions to assist a hostile nation,” stated Williams. “He provided services intended to educate and promote the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to further evade US and UN sanctions, despite knowing North Korea’s human rights abuses and threats against the US, including nuclear capabilities.”

Griffith, who gave presentations on leveraging cryptocurrency for sanctions evasion and money laundering at a 2019 Pyongyang conference, acknowledges his actions. However, his defense argued for leniency due to his alleged obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, claiming these conditions fueled his fixation on North Korea.

Prosecutors further highlighted disciplinary actions taken against Griffith by the Bureau of Prisons during his incarceration at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan. Citing prison reports, they accused Griffith of attempting to steal soap and tea, alongside other minor infractions.

“The defendant’s recent conduct in prison fails to justify any leniency,” prosecutors argued. “These incidents do not suggest newfound respect for regulations.”

In April, Griffith’s legal team petitioned for a sentence revision based on changes to US sentencing guidelines implemented after his conviction. These revisions could potentially reduce his initial recommended sentencing range (63-78 months) to a window of 51-63 months, translating to a possible release date of January 2025 (a year earlier).

During the 2022 sentencing hearing, Judge Kevin Castel expressed doubts about Griffith’s claims of remorse, stating, “He appears to lack ideology and will likely exploit both sides for personal gain.”

Next Steps and Lingering Restrictions

Griffith’s legal team has 14 days to respond to the government’s letter. Regardless of the sentence reduction outcome, the US Department of Commerce has already imposed a decade-long export privilege ban on Griffith. This restriction bars him from engaging in any transactions involving US-controlled commodities, software, or technology until 2032.

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Author: Sb

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