Beware of Renato Rodriguez & Airbit Club – Review

Pablo Renato Rodriguez, an Airbit Club defendant, is having a difficult time in prison.

Rodriguez contracted COVID-19 in pre-trial prison after his arrest and first refusal of bail.

This resulted in a two-month lockdown.

Rodriguez got into a fight with a “violent inmate” after being released from lockdown and sent to the Erie County Correctional Facility in New York.

The squabble culminated in

Pablo had many jaw fractures, necessitating hospitalization (as well as 40 days in the prison infirmary), surgery, and having his mouth wired shut for several weeks.

Rodriguez alleges he has experienced “immense physical and emotional torture” as a result.

Rodriguez requested release on September 15th in exchange for a $10 million bail package.

The Department of Justice has retaliated, identifying Rodriguez as a “major flight risk” with access to “tens of millions of dollars’ worth of almost unrecoverable and untraceable cryptocurrencies.”

Rodriguez hopes to obtain his release with a $10 million bail.

The bond is secured by a business and seven properties in the United States, with an additional six properties in Mexico and Guatemala if necessary.

Rodriguez claims to be the owner of two of the homes. The remainder are the property of family and acquaintances.

Mr. Rodriguez’s friend owns and operates an accounting firm (which also serves as his friend’s primary source of income), and the company is worth around $750,000.

According to SEC records, the man and his wife maintained a bank account in the name of Vizinova Processing that was utilized in the Vizinova fraud, thereby making him a co-conspirator in Rodriguez’s former Ponzi scheme.

Rodriguez will also face house arrest, GPS monitoring, and the surrender of his travel documents.

The Department of Justice rejects Rodriguez’s proposal.

The Government respectfully submits that the defendant’s proposed bail package cannot adequately ensure his appearance in court, given the defendant’s significant ties to Guatemala, his likely access to tens of millions of dollars in virtually unrecoverable and untraceable cryptocurrencies, and the fact that he is facing strong evidence of his guilt.

Rodriguez indicated his willingness to assist with the DOJ following his detention.

Rodriguez expressed a readiness to collaborate with the government in exchange for leniency in this case’s punishment.

In exchange for Rodriguez’s cooperation, the government requested that he transfer any Bitcoin he personally possessed, as well as any Bitcoin representing Airbit Club’s investor holdings, to an HSI-controlled Bitcoin wallet.

Rodriguez consented and agreed to enable the government to transfer about 1,323 Bitcoin, which is presently worth more than $57 million, to an HSI-controlled wallet in or around January 2021.

Almost soon after this transfer, Rodriguez’s attorneys inquired as to if the Government would agree to a bail package.

When the government declined to consent to bail for Rodriguez, his cooperation attempts halted, and he hired new lawyers.

Reading between the lines, it appears Rodriguez expected that paying $57 million would result in his release.

Following release, the intention might have been to go to Central America and live off stolen investor monies.

The DOJ is still looking into additional monies Rodriguez has stowed away.

Here’s where they stand as of September 2021:

On May 25, 2021, HSI conducted a search warrant at the house of Jorge Alejandro Rodriguez, the defendant’s younger brother and one of the defendant’s intended co-signers, in the Central District of California.

Agents discovered paper Bitcoin wallets in a safe in Alejandro Rodriguez’s bedroom during the search, which Alejandro Rodriguez revealed had been supplied to him by Rodriguez and originated from “the office” in Guatemala (which the Government understands refers to Master Group).

Master Group S.A. (“Master Group”), a Guatemalan business owned by Rodriguez and run by his older brother who lives in Guatemala, was one of the key entities through which Rodriguez laundered the Airbit Club earnings.

Agents also discovered a web browser window open on Alejandro Rodriguez’s computer displaying an additional wallet containing Bitcoin that Alejandro Rodriguez indicated belonged to the defendant, as well as additional documentary evidence confirming that Alejandro Rodriguez had transferred more than $1 million in Bitcoin the day before, as well as evidence of additional transfers totaling more than $7 million in Bitcoin between January and May 2021.

HSI also seized roughly 39 Bitcoin (now worth approximately $1.6 million) and approximately 1.8 Ethereum (currently worth approximately $6,000) from Alejandro Rodriguez’s five separate cryptocurrency wallets.

In other words, despite Rodriguez’s claims during his proffers that he had given over to HSI all of his own Bitcoin and the Bitcoin of Airbit Club victims, Rodriguez and his brother had moved millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin in the months following Rodriguez’s proffers.

The government also claims that the $1.5 million in property Rodriguez owns, which was put up as collateral for his release, would be forfeited.

That is, they were acquired with AirBit Club dollars.

Based on its financial and Bitcoin blockchain analysis, the Government determined that Rodriguez purchased at least one of the two residences with approximately $2 million in Bitcoin laundered through (Scott) Hughes, rendering these properties (by far the most valuable of the properties proposed to secure the bond) forfeitable as proceeds of the charged crime and property involved in money laundering.

It is unknown whether any of the other homes were acquired with AirBit Club funding.

However, based on the DOJ’s research, it appears extremely plausible.

Rodriguez employed complex methods to transport and conceal the proceeds of the Airbit Club, including substantial amounts of cash, unregulated Bitcoin payment processors, secret Bitcoin wallets isolated from any regulated exchange, international bank accounts, and foreign corporations.

To date, the Government has determined that Rodriguez, his enterprises, and his family members earned at least $16 million in Airbit Club earnings, based on a conservative computation.

This excludes Airbit Club money that were never touched by the US banking system.

In summary, the DOJ presents Rodriguez’s case.

The defendant’s links to Guatemala, his financial resources, and the gravity of the allegations he faces all make him a considerable flight risk, and the Court should deny his bail application.

Rodriguez responds to the DOJ’s rejection by stating that “links to another nation do not offer a potential to leave.”

In reality, every defendant has the option of fleeing. A passport gives you the ability to leave. Mr. Rodriguez has consented to surrender his passport to the government while the issue is being resolved.

The crucial question is whether the defendant will leave.

Your Honor may be reasonably certain that Mr. Rodriguez will, as previously proven. [sic]

That final sentence was either an incredible own goal or, more likely, a mistake.

When Rodriguez assumed he was going to relinquish some bitcoin and get away with it, he was wrong.

proposed multiple times to the government between December 2020 and February 2021

During the proffers, Rodriguez neither declared nor established his innocence.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, admitted that he directly controlled whether investors may withdraw cash from Airbit Club and that he assisted in recruiting investors into Airbit Club even though he knew the amounts represented in victims’ Airbit Club account would not be remitted to victims.

This has since been updated to

The only option for him to cleanse his reputation and go on with his life is to prove his innocence in court.

Rodriguez risks 21.8 to 27.25 years in jail if convicted of the criminal allegations leveled against him.

The outcome of Rodriguez’s release motion is still pending.

Renato Rodriguez is still in prison as of February 16th, 2022.

The DOJ filed a written move with the court on February 11th, asking an adjournment of the impending March 15th pre-trial hearing.

The delay was attributed to communication from Rodriguez’s lawyer, who said he was facing financial difficulties.

Due to COVID regulations, he faces difficulties consulting with his client in jail.

The meeting was rescheduled for May 18th on February 14th. Other deadlines were also extended as a result.

10th of June 2022 – Following the May 18th meeting, we now have a “tentatively” set trial date of May 1st, 2023.

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