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Bitcoin

A man is facing 20 federal charges stemming from an alleged bitcoin scam carried out in Missoula, Michigan and New Jersey, defrauding investors of more than $200,000 in two weeks.

James Matthew Thomas, of Michigan, pleaded not guilty to all charges on Aug. 14. On Wednesday, his jury trial was scheduled for Oct. 21 at Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Missoula.

He is charged in U.S. District Court in Montana with 16 counts of wire fraud and four counts of money laundering in the indictment filed against him in June. Thomas is represented by a public defender. 

Federal prosecutors allege Thomas solicited cryptocurrency from investors, but used the money for personal expenses. The 16 transactions from investors' Coinbase account to Thomas' checking account between March 20 and April 4, 2018, total nearly $206,000, according to the indictment.

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Thomas had procured these investments for specific business purposes, according to prosecutors, but on March 27 that year he purchased a 2010 Ford Edge from a dealership in Freehold, New Jersey, and three days later bought a 2015 Lincoln MKX from the same dealership. Those purchases, made with funds from the investment, totaled more than $30,000, according to charging documents. 

The next month, Thomas transferred $15,000 to his other checking account on April 6 and transferred nearly $27,000 to a woman in New Jersey "as advance payments for rent and security deposits," according to prosecutors. 

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Filings by Assistant District Attorney Tim Racicot state more than 500 pages of documents and other material, such as recordings, have been piling up in discovery. 

It's not immediately clear in court documents why Thomas is charged in Missoula's federal court, rather than New Jersey or Michigan. Racicot did not return a call for comment late Wednesday. 

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