‘Razzlekhan’ couple pleads guilty in Bitfinex bitcoin hack case

Notorious couple pleads guilty to counts of money laundering in one of the largest heists in crypto history

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A year and a half after their arrest in February 2022, a husband and wife team have pled guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy related to the theft of $3.6 billion in digital assets — one of the largest heists in crypto history. 

Both Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan faced Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. on Thursday during separate hearings.

During the Thursday afternoon hearing, Morgan pled guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Each count carries a maximum of five years in jail.

Morgan told the court that she had a “growing awareness” that her husband — who paid rent to her in crypto as far back as 2014 — sourced his digital wealth through illegal means. Additionally, she became fully aware of his involvement in the 2016 hack on crypto exchange Bitfinex in “early 2020.” 

At that point, she became actively involved in the attempted money laundering process. Morgan said she took actions such as memorizing a Monero seed phrase, burying physical golden coins, and setting up a company designed, in part, to help launder funds through under the guise of B2B sales. 

Both Morgan and Lichtenstein are due to provide the court an update on restitution and forfeiture efforts on Nov. 3, and their sentencing date is still pending.

Lichtenstein, during his hearing, reportedly admitted to being behind the Bitfinex hack in 2016.

The couple was arrested in their Manhattan apartment in 2022 after a year-long investigation into the 2016 Bitfinex hack of nearly 120,000 BTC. The loss was worth the equivalent of $70 million at the time, but ballooned as high as $3.6 billion by the time government officials seized the stolen funds. The couple were not charged for the theft of the bitcoin itself. 

Per a July 20 court filing, the couple face two charges of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Per the plea agreement, the couple will forfeit over $3 billion in assets

Morgan’s flamboyant, rapping alter-ego became a focal point for media attention following the arrests, and the couple have since been the subject of numerous documentaries. 

Katherine Ross contributed reporting.


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