Former Ethereum dev Virgil Griffith asks for resentencing in North Korea case

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Former Ethereum dev Virgil Griffith asks for resentencing in North Korea case
Blockonomics


Former Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith, who was handed a 63-month prison term in 2022 for assisting North Korea in using blockchain technology, has requested a sentence reduction. 

The plea was made in a letter from Glen Garrett McGorty, an attorney representing Virgil Griffith, to Judge Kevin Castel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 17.

The letter requests that the court revise Griffith’s sentence based on newly enacted revisions to U.S. sentencing guidelines, which provide a two-point offense level reduction for certain “zero-point” offenders.

Griffith was sentenced to 63 months and a $100,000 fine in April 2022 after pleading guilty to violating sanctions laws when he attended a conference in North Korea and assisted the state in using blockchain technology — despite economic sanctions imposed by the United States.

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The letter argues that Griffith qualifies for a two-point reduction as a “zero-point” offender based on the criteria outlined in the revised guidelines.

Screenshot from a letter in United States v. Virgil Griffith. Source: Pacer

This reduction would lower his total offense level from 26 to 24, resulting in a revised guidelines range of 51 to 63 months — potentially shaving a year or more off his sentence.

The letter requests that the court order the U.S. Probation Office to draft a revised pre-sentence investigation report, schedule a resentencing hearing, and allow for a briefing schedule so the defense can provide updated information and arguments for their reduction request.

“The defense respectfully requests the opportunity to provide the Court with updated information which would counsel toward a sentence no greater than the lowest end of the new Guidelines range–51 months—if not lower.”

A “zero-point” offender is a first-time, non-violent offender whose crime meets certain criteria indicating a lower risk of recidivism compared to other lawbreakers.

Related: Railgun denies being used by North Korea as it nears $1B total volume

In May 2023, the U.S. Department of Commerce also imposed a 10-year export privilege ban on Griffith, who was serving the first year of his five-year sentence.

This means he was restricted from engaging in any transactions involving commodities, software, or technology that fall under the jurisdiction of U.S. export regulations.

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