Husband-wife ‘crypto-couple’ reach plea deal in $4.5 billion bitcoin heist


The husband and wife “crypto couple” charged in connection with a $4.5 billion bitcoin heist in 2016  have reached a plea agreement with prosecutors, according to a court filing on Friday.

The couple, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, are slated to appear for a plea hearing in federal district court in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 3, according to the court filing.

Details of the deal were not included in the court filing or docket. Messages left with the defendants’ attorneys weren’t immediately returned and a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in DC declined to comment.

Lichtenstein, 35, and Morgan, 33, faced up to 25 years in federal prison when they were first  charged with money laundering and fraud following their arrests in February 2022.

The pair were busted after investigators found $3.6 billion in bitcoin that had been stolen in a hack of the Bitfinex trading platform in 2016 in crypto wallets the couple controlled. 

At the time of the heist, the bitcoin

was worth $71 million, but had skyrocketed in value to $4.5 billion at the time of their arrest.

One of the key investigative questions revolves around what role, if any, the couple played in the initial hack. Neither has been charged with perpetrating the hack itself. 

The couple’s arrest, coupled with Morgan’s outspoken persona on social media and alter ego as a comedic rapper called Razzlekhan, triggered a media firestorm and sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley and the world of cryptocurrency obsessives where they were known.

Acquaintances said the pair had done little to reveal that they had allegedly been sitting atop an illicit fortune for years, while presenting themselves as fairly typical Silicon Valley strivers.  But prosecutors said the couple had been slowly trying to launder the stolen money, while laying the groundwork to flee to Russia if necessary.

Lichtenstein has been held without bail since his arrest. Morgan was released on $3 million bond and placed in home confinement.

Court filings had stated the defendants had been engaged in plea bargain talks with prosecutors for much of the past year.

A court filing late last year revealed that the investigation involved “classified national-security information and documents,” that required the couple’s attorneys to be given security clearances to review.


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