Two New Yorkers have been arrested in connection to the theft of $4.5 billion in stolen cryptocurrency. The individuals were attempting to launder the cryptocurrency, which was stolen during a hack in 2016 from a virtual currency exchange, Bitfinex. The cryptocurrency is valued at $4.5 billion today. Law enforcement agencies seized $3.6 billion linked to the heist. Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife, Heather Morgan, both residents of New York City were arrested. The couple allegedly tried to launder the proceeds of 119,754 bitcoin that were stolen in the breach. They were charged with federal offenses,

Conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said,

“Today’s arrests, and the department’s largest financial seizure ever, show that cryptocurrency is not a safe haven for criminals. In a futile effort to maintain digital anonymity, the defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions. Thanks to the meticulous work of law enforcement, the department once again showed how it can and will follow the money, no matter what form it takes.”

These 3 New York Bank Robberies Were Among The Biggest In America

There have been some really big bank heists around the United States where robbers were able to get away with millions of dollars. Three of the largest value robberies were right here in New York. One of the deadliest bank robberies also took place in the state.

Top 3 Largest Bank Heists In New York

1. Bank of America Robbery
January 14, 1998
$1.6 million ($2.7 million today)

The 1998 Bank of America heist took place in 1 World Trade Center, in New York City. A petty criminal named Ralph Guarino planned the robbery. He collaborated with Salvatore Calciano, who worked at the World Trade Center. They were assisted by three other criminals - Richie Gillette, Melvin Folk, and Mike Reed. They began the heist around 8:30 am, when employees were unloading money bags from a Brinks van. The crime only took about 15 minutes to execute.

In the aftermath of the robbery, Folk and Reed returned to their old neighborhoods and were quickly identified and captured. Gillette was questioned by security after boarding an Amtrak train but was not detained at the time. He was later found and arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, two days later, at 8:30 pm. January 16. The FBI did not believe the three had acted alone and began to search for a mastermind. Guarino had various ideas of how to get rid of the money but ultimately was unable to follow through on any plans before FBI agents came to arrest him at his Staten Island home. Following his arrest, Guarino agreed to become an FBI informant on the DeCavalcante mafia family.

2. Lufthansa Heist
December 11, 1978
$5.875 million ($25.1 million today)

The Lufthansa Heist took place at JFK International Airport in 1978. It was carried out by the Lucchese crime family. Jimmy Burke, an associate of the family, was allegedly the mastermind of the heist. The Lufthansa was the largest airline in Germany. The family heard that the airline flew money to its cargo terminal at the airport. The robbery started around 3 am with six men - Tommy DeSimone, Angelo Sepe, Louis Cafora, Joe Manri, Paolo LiCastri and Robert McMahon. The gang was able to get away with $5.875 million, which was equivalent to $23.3 million in 2020. The money from the heist has never been found.

Parnell "Stacks" Edwards had failed to get rid of the van that had been used in the heist. Edwards was supposed to have driven the vehicle to New Jersey, where it (along with any potential evidence inside) was to be destroyed in a junk yard belonging to John Gotti. Instead, Edwards parked the van in front of a fire hydrant at his girlfriend's apartment, where police discovered it two days after the heist. Paul Vario subsequently ordered DeSimone to kill Edwards. Once he found out where Edwards was hiding, DeSimone and Angelo Sepe visited Edwards and shot him five times in the head. From the van, fingerprints were lifted of several perpetrators of the robbery.

More than 9 other associates involved with planning and carrying out the heist were murdered on orders from Burke, who wanted to eliminate anyone who could implicate him.

Credit: Burt Cockley via Youtube

3. Manhattan Savings Institution
October 27, 1878
$2.5 million ($67 million today)

The Manhattan Savings Institution was located at Bleecker Street and Broadway in New York City. The heist began around 6 am when the burglars forced the bank's janitor, who lived in an apartment in the building, to give them the vault combination. The crime was masterminded by George Leonidas Leslie and executed by Jimmy Hope, Samuel Perris, and other associates. They stole $2.5 million, which is equivalent to $67 million today. The amount included $12,000 in cash and the rest was in securities.

One Of The Deadliest Bank Robberies

1981 Brink's Robbery
October 20, 1981
$1.6 million ($4.9 million today)

Three people died in the heist of a Brink's Armored truck, which was carried out by Black Liberation Army members and former members of the Weather Underground. One member of the robbery group, Mtayari Sundiata, died in a shootout with police who were trying to apprehend him and another suspect three days later. The group got away with $1.6 million in cash, the equivalent of $4.9 million today at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York. Peter Paige, a Brink's guard, was killed in the robbery. Two Nyack police officers, Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown, were also killed. Police Detective Artie Keenan and Brink's guard Joseph Trombino were both seriously wounded. Brink's truck driver James Kelly was received minor injuries. The alleged ringleader was Mutulu Shakur, and the robbers involved in the deadly plot were David Gilbert, Kuwasi Balagoon, Samuel Brown, Mtayari Sundiata, Sekou Odinga, Judith Alice Clark, Kathy Boudin, and Marilyn Buck.

Credit: The FBI Files via Youtube

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