Mike Murgio, a former teacher, principal, and Palm Beach County School Board member, has been arrested for allegedly taking part in a money-laundering scheme involving the digital currency bitcoin. Murgio, 65, faces federal corruption and bribery charges. He was released from custody after paying a $250,000 bond.
According to the case files, Murgio allegedly worked with his 31-year-old son, Anthony Murgio, who was the head of a bitcoin exchange compnay called Coin.mx. Bitcoin is a decentralized and unregulated digital currency that offers users quick money transfers and relative anonymity.
Coin.mx is not registered with the U.S. Department of Treasury, as is required by law, and it never reported users who may have been exchanging bitcoins obtained through illegal means. Prosecutors say the company gave hackers and other online criminals an illegal avenue for trading the cryptocurrency for cash. The company processed over $1.8 million in transactions in the two-year period between 2013 and 2015.
Authorities say Anthony Murgio allegedly tried to hide the source of his funds by claiming that his company was an exclusive club for memorabilia enthusiasts. He allegedly went so far as to create a fake website for his “Collectibles Club” along with bank accounts under a shell company set up in West Palm Beach. Murgio’s son has also been indicted by the federal court for running an unlicensed money transfer business and federal money laundering charges.
Murgio purportedly gave Trevor Gross, the chairman of a New Jersey credit union for low-income clients, bribes that amount to $150,000 to help him cover up his son’s money laundering scheme. Gross has also been named in the indictment.
News sources say Murgio has no plans of resigning from his School Board seat and that he expects to be cleared of all charges. Robert Avossa, Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent, told the press that Murgio’s arrest appears to have nothing to do with his duties on the School Board.
Only Florida Governor Rick Scott has the power to suspend or remove elected officials, and a spokeswoman from his office said the governor is aware of the case and plans to review the situation. Murgio intends to run for re-election this year.