Ex-Attorney Pleads Guilty in $5 Million Bitcoin Scheme Involving Former Coral Springs Resident

When Levine was arrested in Guatemala for a passport scheme in 2019, authorities believed he was a Russian citizen named Viktor Lapin.

By Kevin Deutsch

A disbarred lawyer who worked with former international fugitive and ex-Coral Springs resident Randy Levine to commit cryptocurrency fraud to the tune of $5 million pleaded guilty Friday, federal prosecutors said.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Philip Reichenthal, 78, of Homestead, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in Manhattan federal court. He faces a maximum term of twenty years in prison at sentencing, prosecutors said.

Reichenthal, a licensed attorney at the time of the fraud who has since been disbarred, conspired with Levine to defraud investors who believed they were purchasing millions in Bitcoin, according to DOJ.

An escrow agent at the time, Reichenthal, falsely represented he would act in that capacity for the cryptocurrency transactions but instead sent a “substantial portion” of investors’ money to Levine before any Bitcoin was provided by Levine to investors, prosecutors said.

Neither Levine nor Reichenthal ever provided any Bitcoin to the investors or refunded their money.

“As a licensed attorney and escrow agent, Philip Reichenthal was entrusted to keep investors’ money safe,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, a top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, said Friday. “But as he admitted today, he betrayed that trust by siphoning millions of dollars of investor money. Now he stands guilty of wire fraud and awaits sentencing for his crime.”

Reichenthal’s co-conspirator, Levine, 54, is a former Coral Springs resident who fled the United States in 2005 after his residence was searched by police, and he learned charges were being brought against him for passport fraud and perjury.

Levine was arrested in Austria in 2020 after 15 years on the run, convicted of wire fraud and perjury in a separate U.S. case, and sentenced to four years in prison in August 2021, court records show.

Prosecutors on Friday said extradition proceedings for Levine are still pending in the Bitcoin fraud case.

Levine’s location was not immediately clear.

The DOJ cases against Reichenthal and Levine involved two fraudulent schemes. In the first, Levine convinced the head of a purported cryptocurrency escrow firm to wire Reichenthal over $3 million in funds from an “over-the-counter” cryptocurrency broker in 2018, according to the government.

The money was supposed to fund the purchase of Bitcoin. But in truth, Levine never intended to complete the deal, prosecutors said.

After receiving the $3 million from Levine, Reichenthal wired over $2 million to bank accounts in Guatemala held in the name of one of Levine’s aliases.

Levine then lied to the head of the cryptocurrency firm “about why the deal had not worked out, the status of the purported Bitcoin, and the location of [his company’s]money, which was never returned,” prosecutors wrote.

In the second fraudulent scheme, carried out in 2019, Levine convinced a Florida resident involved in brokering Bitcoin transactions to get investors to send Reichenthal over $2 million of their money to fund Bitcoin purchases.

Again, Levine told the broker he would sell them Bitcoin but never had any intention of doing so, prosecutors said.

After receiving the funds from investors, Reichenthal, in turn, sent over $1.9 million to bank accounts in Mexico controlled by Levine. The money was then wired to a bank account in Russia held in the name of one of Levine’s aliases.

Levine then lied to the Florida broker and a Bitcoin investor about the status of investors’ funds, which were never returned, prosecutors said.

Levine had previously been linked to a passport fraud scheme out of Guatemala. He was arrested in 2018 with a Russian passport under the alias “Viktor Lapin” for the crime of money laundering and other assets.

He also carried out a fraud scheme in which he duped victims into sending him money to open offshore or Las Vegas casino gambling accounts, which he never did, according to DOJ.

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Kevin Deutsch

Kevin Deutsch
Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.

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