Freeman locked up
Free Keene leader Ian Freeman isn’t getting out of prison pending trial on federal money laundering charges after Judge Andrea Johnstone found he is a flight risk, and he poses a risk to the community.
Part of the allegations against Freeman is that he was laundering money through his Bitcoin business and Shire Free Church that criminal scammers got through various crimes. Johnston writes that Freeman knew for years his business was under investigation and that did not stop him from allegedly doing more harm.
“Government agents have identified people across the country who stated they were manipulated by scammers into sending money to the defendant, the Shire Free Church, or one of the alleged co-conspirators, often in the form of ‘church donations,’” Johnstone wrote. “As recently as March 16, 2021, the Postal Inspection Service intercepted a package addressed to the Shire Free Church, which contained $4,000 from ‘an 80-year-old victim of an apparent romance scam.’ This operation clearly poses a danger to the community by enabling fraud and economic harm.”
Freeman reportedly controls at least $1.6 million worth of Bitcoin and has several hundred thousands more in cash and other securities. Investigators found $178,000 in cash in Freeman’s Keene home when it was raided by federal agents and local police earlier this month. They also found more than two dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Freeman’s business partner, Mark Edginton, is currently overseas, possibly in Mexico, according to Johnstone, and Freeman himself has taken frequent trips to Mexico and Japan in recent years.
“Mr. Freeman’s significant financial assets and their unique accessibility, lack of strong ties to New Hampshire, foreign travel, and potentially lengthy sentence, as well as the weight of the evidence against him, establish that he has both the means and the incentive to flee,” Johnstone wrote.
Freeman, 40, Freeman (formerly Ian Bernard), 40, of Keene, Colleen Fordham, 60, of Alstead, Renee Spinella, 23, of Derry, Andrew Spinella, 35, of Derry, Nobody (formerly Richard Paul), 52, of Keene and Aria DiMezzo, 34, of Keene were all taken into custody during the raids.
Freeman, Fordham, Renee Spinella, Andrew Spinella, and Nobody also are charged with wire fraud and participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Freeman is also charged with money laundering and operating a continuing financial crimes enterprise. Freeman and DiMezzo also are charged with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Freeman and DiMezzo both started churches that the indictments claim they used as part of the money laundering scheme. According to the indictment, since 2016, the defendants have operated a business that enabled customers to exchange over ten million dollars in fiat currency for virtual currency, charging a fee for their service. They operated their virtual currency exchange business using websites, as well as operating virtual currency ATM machines in New Hampshire.
Freeman and Nobody are the only Free Keene suspects still in jail pending trial, the others have all been released. Nobody, who has a prior drug dealing conviction on his record, waved a detention hearing after his arrest.
Freeman’s Free Keene group was integral to the early days of the Free State Project, an effort to lure Libertarians to the state with the purpose of taking over the state government. The Free State Project officially distanced itself from Freeman in 2014 after he began making comments on his radio program in favor lowering the legal age of consent for sexual relations.