House Arrest Isn’t Keeping a Former Bitcoin CEO Grounded

A blog about business and economics.
July 3 2014 7:15 AM

House Arrest Isn’t Keeping a Former Bitcoin CEO Grounded

Charlie Shrem just needs to get home by 9 p.m.

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

This story first appeared in Inc.

You'd think it's been a rough summer for former Bitcoin Foundation vice chairman and CEO of now-defunct virtual-currency company BitInstant, Charlie Shrem. The Bitcoin millionaire has been under house arrest in his parents' Brooklyn basement since being indicted by federal prosecutors in April for allegedly laundering money for the online black-market site Silk Road.

But a Wall Street Journal article this week paints a different picture—one of a former entrepreneur leading a fairly normal life, and to a remarkable degree conducting business as usual.


Shrem, 24, has in recent months spoken at industry events, worked as a consultant, and helped a New York hotel prepare to accept bitcoin payments.

The electronic-monitoring device requiring he is at home from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. most weekdays isn't keeping Shrem down. According to the Journal:

He even participated in a panel discussion at New York's Tribeca Film Festival in April after the screening of a bitcoin documentary. But the conditions of his arrest meant that "I couldn't go to any of the after-parties," he said in an interview.

In addition, Shrem announced July 1 he would be speaking at the American Banker Digital Currencies conference in New York on July 29.

Although prosecutors denied a request by Shrem's lawyers to allow him to travel to Washington, D.C., to speak at a bitcoin conference, Shrem seems to have plenty of work. He told the Journal that he's working as a business-development consultant for Payza, a payments startup. He's also helped out when hotel-manager Brandon Ward "turned to him in March for advice on how to set up bitcoin acceptance at two Brooklyn hotels."

"He knows a lot of people in the bitcoin world and when I have a question about implementation, he is always right there to answer it," Ward, who manages the hotels that started accepting bitcoin last month, told the Journal.

Shrem's trial, where he could be handed up to a 20-year prison sentence if found guilty (he has pleaded not guilty) is scheduled for September. Until then, it seems like it's business as usual.

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a senior writer at Inc. Follow her on Twitter.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.