Court case

The Keene man whose legal name is Nobody has been released from jail, more than five months after federal agents arrested him and five other Granite Staters, alleging that their cryptocurrency exchange violated anti-money-laundering laws and other financial regulations.

Nobody, the former Richard Paul, is charged with conspiring to run an unlicensed money-transmitting business, wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud as part of the crypto operation, which prosecutors say “hordes of cybercriminals” used to avoid detection by banks and government regulators.

He was released Sept. 1 on $20,000 bail from the Merrimack County jail in Boscawen, where he’d been held since his March 16 arrest due partially to his making violent threats since then against his attorney and law-enforcement officers, according to court filings.

The other defendants, who, like Nobody, have pleaded not guilty to all charges, have been released. A trial for their case is currently scheduled for next year.

In a March 15 indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for New Hampshire, prosecutors say the defendants — who include Aria DiMezzo and Ian Freeman of Keene, Colleen Fordham of Alstead, and Andrew and Renee Spinella of Derry — “knowingly operated” a $10 million crypto exchange in violation of federal regulations.

The six defendants made “substantial efforts to evade detection” by selling cryptocurrency via bank accounts established under either their own names or the names of purported religious entities, according to the indictment. Prosecutors say Freeman, who they accuse of heading the crypto exchange, and other defendants also directed customers to report falsely that they were donating to churches or buying rare coins rather than purchasing cryptocurrency.

Freeman, who faces several charges, including money laundering and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise, was released to home confinement in May after spending two months in jail.

Prosecutors had argued against granting Freeman bail, calling him a flight risk due to his large financial assets — which they say include millions in cryptocurrency — and the prospect of years in prison, if he’s convicted. One of the charges against him carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Nobody, a libertarian activist who ran unsuccessful campaigns for Keene mayor in 2019 and governor in 2020, had been detained since his arrest after making the threats against his court-appointed attorney and law-enforcement officers in a recorded phone call from jail, according to court filings.

In a June 1 detention order, a U.S. magistrate judge said Nobody had told two friends on the call that his attorney was “corrupt” and that he “needs to die.” He also told them “somebody needs to start shooting pigs” and made a general threat about overthrowing the government, according to the order.

Citing those comments, the judge ruled at the time that Nobody’s “aggressive, vengeful, and hostile tone, combined with the severity of the threats, provide clear and convincing evidence that [he], if released, would present a danger to the community.”

The Massachusetts-based attorney, John Apruzzese, withdrew from the case in April due to an “irretrievable breakdown” of his relationship with Nobody, he told the court.

After obtaining new attorneys, Nobody — who co-hosted the libertarian radio show Free Talk Live, along with Freeman and DiMezzo, before his arrest — appealed his detention in July. In the appeal, his attorneys argued that he doesn’t pose a true danger to the community because he didn’t threaten any identifiable person in the recorded phone call. (Prosecutors had said the comments show he might attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate witnesses in the case if released — or have others do the same.)

Nobody’s attorneys also noted that the charges against him are non-violent and claimed that he doesn’t have the financial resources to flee if released.

In granting Nobody’s release earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Joseph LaPlante prohibited him from contacting the other co-defendants or any potential witnesses in the case, participating in any cryptocurrency exchange and speaking to large audiences, including via social media.

“We’re thrilled, obviously,” one of Nobody’s attorneys, Anessa Allen Santos, said Wednesday of his release. “It was definitely a long, unnecessarily drawn-out process.”

Caleb Symons can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1420, or Follow him on Twitter @CalebSymonsKS.