NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A Florida man pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges that he illegally operated a bitcoin exchange owned by an Israeli who U.S. prosecutors say orchestrated a series of massive hacking attacks on companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Anthony Murgio, 31, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan to charges that he committed wire fraud and money laundering and operated an unlicensed money transmitting business.
U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan set a trial date for Oct. 31, 2016.
Murgio also said at Friday’s hearing that he was switching counsel, though he did not say why. His new lawyer, Robert Soloway, replaces Gregory Kehoe.
Murgio’s plea came a week after U.S. prosecutors unveiled related charges against three men accused of engaging in a cyber-criminal enterprise that hacked into a dozen companies’ networks, stealing personal information of over 100 million people.
Those companies included JPMorgan, which prosecutors said suffered the theft of records belonging to more than 83 million customers. The three men included two Israelis, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, and one American, Joshua Samuel Aaron.
Murgio, a resident of Tampa, Florida, was not accused of engaging in the hacking offenses or many of the related alleged crimes they helped facilitate, including a series of stock manipulation frauds.
But prosecutors said he operated an unlicensed bitcoin exchange called Coin.mx that exchanged millions of dollars of the virtual currency for customers and that was owned by Shalon, who authorities say orchestrated the hacking attacks.
Murgio also had ties to Aaron. Both men attended Florida State University, and in 2008 they formed a business together. On his website, Murgio calls Aaron “my friend” and said he “showed me the ropes to online marketing.”
Shalon, 31, and Orenstein, 40, were arrested in Israel in July, and the United States is seeking their extradition. Aaron, 31, is wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which says as of June he was believed to be in Eastern Europe.
According to prosecutors, the three engaged in a series criminal schemes, including manipulating stocks, operating illegal online casinos, processing payments for criminals and owning the unlicensed bitcoin exchange.
Those schemes generated hundreds of millions dollars and were furthered by hacking companies including JPMorgan, E*Trade Financial Corp and News Corp’s Dow Jones unit, in order to steal customer information, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Murgio, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-00769. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York)