Randall Lord imprisoned for breaking a law that doesn't exist.
Randall Lord was charged with operating a money service business (MSB) without a license. The thing is, MSBs are issued at the state level, and the office that issued the license told Randall that he didn't need one. Unfortunately for him, his lawyer had already convinced him to take a deal for a guilty plea.
The business in question was simply exchanging bitcoins for dollars among mostly friends and family. This was not a huge commercial enterprise. While are laws requiring MSBs to obtain licenses, usually costing tens of thousands per year in fees, bitcoin is not considered money and the business was not an MSB.
When Randall first heard of the charges, he was told he could face up to 30 years in prison if he tried to fight the charge. Instead, he accepted a plea bargain for just a few years sentence. This is common practice in courts across the country, even though this practice has been shown to frequently cause factually innocent people to plea guilty.
After the guilty plea had been entered, Randall was told by the state of Louisiana that they would not require him to have an MSB license to continue running his business. Unfortunately the judge refused to consider this new information and allow Lord to withdraw or change his plea, stating that it would be "an inconvenience to the court".
It doesn't take a lawyer to see that this is a complete miscarriage of justice. Laws are not created and enforced to to trick as many people into prison - they are there to prevent people from getting harmed. Yet here is a man operating a business where no complaints where filed against him, only a government that doesn't have an official position on cryptocurrencies rushing to put him behind bars.
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