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In the early morning hours of Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2021, federal agents, local law enforcement, and half a dozen other 3-letter agencies kicked in the doors at Free Talk Live’s studio, the Bitcoin Embassy, and the Shire Free Church, among other places arresting 6 individuals and confiscating several Bitcoin vending machines, computers, and other personal items over the bastardly crime of selling crypto without a government permission slip.

Ian Freeman, a minister of the Shire Free Church, founder of the syndicated radio show Free Talk Live, peace activist, and mover for the Free State Project took the Crypto6 case to trial in late 2022. Sadly after extensive manipulation and lying by the government the jury came to a verdict of guilty on all counts brought to trial. However that isn’t the whole picture as the prosecution dropped 17 of 25 charges before the trial even began. The judge has indicated he believes Ian’s got a good basis to appeal as well.

One of the many problems in the case is that the government presented no evidence that any crimes were committed. The evidence presented properly understood and in context actually exonerated the defendant. The prosecutor told an entertaining story full of lies and innuendo that a jury appears to have bought. What was presented was a case based largely on flimsy testimony that actually proved Ian’s innocence. For instance the FBI sent in an undercover agent who attempted to get Ian to sell him crypto after revealing that he was a drug dealer. When Ian refused the agent went around him without Ian’s knowledge to purchase crypto from a church vending machine. The FBI agent admitted on the stand his description of Ian giving him a ‘wink and a nod’ to do so wasn’t true under cross examination.

In another instance the government tried to prove tax evasion via an IRS agent. One of the many major problemss was that IRS agent admitted under cross examination that they usually contact a person that they believe owes taxes before bringing criminal charges. This never happened and the agent even admitted that Ian might not owe any taxes at all. 4 of the tax evasion counts are based on this. Other evidence from the IRS also proved Ian nor the Shire Free Church was under any obligation to file a return as churches and ministers thereof are exempt from filing under most circumstances. Some critcs have suggested the church was setup to sell Bitcoin, but in actuality the church long pre-dates the sale of crypto and crypto sales were merely one outreach effort of many. The church also housed low income families, drug addicts, and raised money to build orphanages in Africa. The church contributed to 100 nights homeless shelter among many other projects.

As the defense lawyer pointed out at the end of the trial this case was entirely based on speculation and cherry picking of transactions to make Ian look crooked despite Ian knowing nothing of any scams or crimes. In fact it was shown at trial that Ian did extensive KYC (Know Your Customer) despite there being no requirement to do so and the banks didn't do any KYC at all for any of the handful of 'victim' witnesses that the prosecutor put up on the stand. These witnesses were in fact victims, but not of Ian or the Shire Free Church. Third parties of whom Ian had no knowledge of were getting their victims to lie to the banks and church about the reasons for why they were purchasing Bitcoin. The jury was then asked to convict based entirely on inference.

For more extensive coverage of the trial check out the transcripts now available. Also check out the videos to the right below and for the maximum details on the case and appeals follow us on Telegram, Matrix, and Mastodon via the links below.

I blogged daily for the entire 10 day trial in an effort to ensure complete coverage of the Crypto6 case. You can find summaries of testimonies and each days events here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10. For more information such as additional sketches, photos, videos and links to third party coverage check out the Telegram and Matrix links below.

Now that the trial is over and the sentencing hearing resulted in 8-years of cage time for Ian (and unfortunately the judge did order him incarcerated on appeal likely due to the money laundering charge being thrown out) you may be wondering whats next? Sadly the restitution hearing has been permanently canceled as an agreement was hashed out regarding just restitution. Despite the agreement Ian maintains his innocence and appeals are still forthcoming on the criminal charges. While any restitution agreement is disappointing given Ian’s innocence the third parties who lost money to scammers that were unknown to Ian at any point prior to charges being filed will receive some amount of money. This will not make the victims whole as only a small portion of funds lost were connected to purchases of Bitcoin from the church. It became known during the trial that scammers were directing victims to purchase Bitcoin from other sources and in reality there was no ‘but if not for’ as the prosecution claimed. This is still better than the government receiving said money and puts an end to any ability of the government to steal further undiscovered assets. Next up is filing the appeal and finding out what the exact grounds will be.

As of April 2024 Ian has been moved from the Merrimack County Spiritual Retreat to the Devens Spiritual Retreat. We’ve posted information on how supporters can write to Ian at Aria took a plea deal and she's currently at a federal spiritual retreat in AYER, MA and you can find her contact information at Aria has had a sentence of ~8-18 months depending on good behavior while in prison. She was released to a halfway house May 9th, 2024 after serving 317 of the ~540 days, or about 57% of the sentenced time. Ian’s likely to serve 4 ½ to 5 years (probably ~4 years 8 months) if appeals fail.

History Of The FBI's Decades Long Attack On Free Staters, Free Talk Live, & The Shire Free Church Ballad Of The Crypto6 Doc NBC Free State Series EP10: Crypto6 NBC Free State Series EP12: Crypto6 P2 Full NBC Free State Docuseries: Inc Crypto6 Write To Caged Activist Ian Freeman Get A 'Free The Crypto6 T-Shirt' Join the read-only Telegram room for case updates Join the read-only Matrix room for case updates Follow Mr Penguin on Mastodon for updates to the Crypto6 case Partake in the Crypto6 on the Shire Society Forums
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