A Santa Monica man accused of using his cryptocurrency money trading business to launder millions of dollars in suspected criminal proceeds will plead guilty Sept. 27 to a federal charge, officials announced Tuesday.
Charles Randol, 33, agreed to plead guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, a crime punishable by up to five years in federal prison, according to the office of the US Attorney.
He is expected to enter his plea before U.S. District Judge Hernán D. Vera in downtown Los Angeles.
From October 2017 to July 2021, Randol owned and operated a virtual currency money services business known as Digital Coin Strategies LLC. The company offered cryptocurrency money exchange services for a commission, per its plea agreement.
Randol met with anonymous customers in person to conduct transactions, controlling and operating a network of automated kiosks in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties that converted cash to Bitcoin and vice versa, and conducted Bitcoin-for-cash transactions for strangers who sent large amounts. of U.S. currency, including in post office boxes he controlled, according to court documents.
Randol admitted in his plea agreement to repeatedly violating federal law and his company’s own policies by facilitating suspicious foreign exchange transactions and taking steps to conceal them from law enforcement.
For example, Randol frequently conducted in-person cash transactions exceeding $10,000 with anonymous or pseudo-anonymous individuals, including people Randol knew only by nicknames such as Puppet Shariff, White Jetta, Yogurt Monster, and Hood.
In his plea agreement, Randol admitted to participating in specific transactions from October 2020 to January 2021 during which he exchanged a total of $273,940 in cash for Bitcoin without asking for a name, proof of identity, social security number or other information about the buyer or source of the funds exchanged – violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.
Randol also allowed criminals to structure and launder funds through its Bitcoin kiosks in shopping malls, gas stations and convenience stores in Los Angeles, Glendale, Santa Clarita, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana and Riverside, prosecutors allege.