Episode 70 – The Rise and Fall of Reggie Fowler

The Rise and Fall of Reggie Fowler Crypto Critics' Corner

Today Bennett and Cas discuss Reginald Fowler, a former part-owner of the Minnesota Vikings and co-owner of Crypto Capital Corp – cryptocurrency's shadow bank of choice for years. Reggie recently pled guilty to numerous counts of… we'll just say financial malfeasance, and now faces up to 90 years in prison. For background on Crypto Capital Corp, listen to episode six of Crypto Critics' Corner: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/crypto-critics-corner/id1557045965?i=1000523117384 For a read about Ravid Yosef, read this piece by Cas: https://thecaspiancey.medium.com/that-time-an-internet-nobody-tracked-a-woman-on-the-hook-for-850-million-and-then-let-her-get-d5d93149c837

Cas Piancey and Bennett Tomlin discuss the guilty pleas of Reggie Fowler, former part owner of the Minnesota Vikings and current financial criminal

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English Transcript

Cas Piancey: Welcome back, everyone.

Cas Piancey: I am Cas Piancey, and I'm joined as usual by my partner in crime and Mr.

Cas Piancey: Bennett.

Cas Piancey: Tomlin, how are you today?

Bennett Tomlin: I'm doing well.

Bennett Tomlin: Cas, how are you?

Cas Piancey: Well, better than a lot of people because about to go over it.

Cas Piancey: We previously talked about Crypto Capital Corp.

Cas Piancey: Today we are talking about Reggie Fowler.

Cas Piancey: Reginald Fowler, who was one of the key players involved in that.

Cas Piancey: What are our episodes that talk about him so people can get a background?

Bennett Tomlin: Episode six is the main episode we did on Crypto Capital Corp.

Bennett Tomlin: We mention it, of course, in episodes one and two in terms of their relationship with Tether and Bitfinex and episode seven in terms of their relationship with QuadrigaCX.

Cas Piancey: Okay, so there's two episodes that you can try to listen to and get a background on Reggie Fowler, if you want.

Cas Piancey: There's threads online and stuff about his previous involvement in other kind of shady dealings in regard to a car wash business, some other stuff, the whole thing.

Cas Piancey: I don't know how I didn't realize this, but his whole endeavor with the NFL, or was it his own League was connected to this whole plea bargain that happened today.

Cas Piancey: But I'm getting ahead of what we should be talking about.

Cas Piancey: Bennett, what did Reggie Fowler plead guilty to?

Bennett Tomlin: Operating an unlicensed money transmitter, bank fraud, wire fraud, and a couple of related charges also surrounding the unlicensed money transmitter.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah, all of them activities he engaged in when he was one of the principles of Crypto Capital Corp.

Bennett Tomlin: We should probably just pause briefly here and summarize what Crypto Capital Corp was.

Bennett Tomlin: For the full story, go back to episode six.

Bennett Tomlin: But it was an unlicensed payments processor that worked with a who's whose list of the cryptocurrency industry, including Bitfinex, Tether, Kraken, Quadriga and Bitmex.

Bennett Tomlin: And they also apparently allegedly may have been engaged in money laundering for the Colombian cartels.

Bennett Tomlin: And that's why one of their other principals, even Manuel Molina Lee, was arrested in Greece and extradited to Poland.

Bennett Tomlin: Reggie Fowler was helping run the America side of their operations through a bunch of entities, many of them branded under the Global Trade Solutions name.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah.

Bennett Tomlin: And so we're talking about Reggie Fowler today because he pled guilty to all the charges related to running this part of Crypto Capital Corp.

Cas Piancey: The other people involved you mentioned Ivan Manuel Molina Lee.

Cas Piancey: There were two other individuals involved in this who are still wanted, as far as I know, and have not been discovered as of yet.

Cas Piancey: I believe both are located in Israel.

Cas Piancey: To this day, it's Ravid and Oz Yosef.

Cas Piancey: So they've been on the run since this time.

Cas Piancey: We don't know where exactly they are or what is destined to happen to them.

Cas Piancey: The story still is going to I think everyone suspects there's more to play out here that Reggie perhaps could try to implicate other people in this and try to maybe make his deal a little bit better, because today he found out while we had the opportunity to listen to the trial.

Cas Piancey: This is something I don't get to do very often.

Cas Piancey: So it was interesting to me to listen to the guilty plea live without getting into the exact details of what each count amounts to in terms of years behind bars.

Cas Piancey: He is looking at possibly up to 90 years consecutively behind bars, which for a 63 year old man is a certain death sentence.

Cas Piancey: And that was difficult to hear.

Cas Piancey: As someone who knows the bad things he's done and that he's made, it's not fair to even call them mistakes.

Cas Piancey: He knew a lot of the bad stuff that he was doing.

Cas Piancey: He screwed a lot of people over.

Bennett Tomlin: And we should probably provide a little bit of context and some of the extra bad stuff he was doing Besides the stuff he pled guilty to today, the running the unlicensed payment processor, the bank fraud, all that he was embezzling 10% off the top at Crypto Capital Corp.

Bennett Tomlin: He was running two sets of books.

Bennett Tomlin: He had counterfeit bills and equipment to counterfeit more fake bond certificates totaling over billions of dollars.

Bennett Tomlin: He was committed to this.

Bennett Tomlin: But you're right, listening to him today, like when he was doing the plea, it was obvious that he sounded broken.

Bennett Tomlin: It was after he heard, like the 90 year number.

Cas Piancey: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: And just so everyone understood it, they discussed the number of years for each count.

Cas Piancey: And basically the judge went through it and said, like, you understand that you're looking at blah, blah, blah, up to X amount of years plus X amount of years as supervised release afterwards.

Cas Piancey: And he would go, yes, right through these five counts.

Cas Piancey: And then at the very end, the judge explained that these may not run concurrently, they might run consecutively.

Cas Piancey: And the maximum penalty for you is 90 years.

Cas Piancey: Now, look, he's probably not going to get 90 years.

Cas Piancey: He is a 63 year old man.

Cas Piancey: And the odds that he sees that type of penalty, I think, is just really not going to happen.

Cas Piancey: But I think realistically on the other end of this is that like a 15 year sentence could still be a death sentence for a 63 year old.

Cas Piancey: I know he's done a lot of bad stuff.

Cas Piancey: I don't know.

Cas Piancey: It never feels good.

Cas Piancey: This is never a victory lap.

Bennett Tomlin: No.

Bennett Tomlin: And this gets into, like, how strange this entire trial has been.

Bennett Tomlin: Right.

Bennett Tomlin: Because previously he was working on a plea agreement.

Bennett Tomlin: And so under a plea agreement, you can get certain things conditionally from the prosecutors and stuff about your sentence.

Bennett Tomlin: And then that deal ended up getting blown up that day when he went into the courtroom for reasons that are somewhat strange and hard to divine from the transcript.

Bennett Tomlin: And now at this point, all he was doing was taking an open plea, which means he's making these pleas today with no guarantees, no idea of what's going to happen just like throwing yourself at the mercy of the US judicial system and looking at the US judicial system, I can't imagine that feels good for anyone.

Cas Piancey: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: And again, to provide context there, what Bennett is saying is that Reggie kind of made a fool of the defense or not of the defense.

Cas Piancey: Well, both of the defense and the prosecution.

Cas Piancey: And probably the judge felt like a bit of a fool as well, because everyone thought that they had agreed upon this guilty plea previously.

Cas Piancey: And then at the very last second, Reggie was like, no, never mind.

Cas Piancey: I'm not pleading guilty.

Cas Piancey: Forget it.

Cas Piancey: I want a new lawyer.

Cas Piancey: And then he wanted a new lawyer after that.

Bennett Tomlin: Well, then he wasn't paying the lawyers, and then he had no money to pay a lawyer.

Bennett Tomlin: So you had to find a lawyer who would agree to do it with no promise of money, which is a hard thing to find.

Cas Piancey: Exactly.

Cas Piancey: So basically, you had all these delays, which I think, Unfortunately, I don't know how to examine this because we've been so invested in this story that I do think he deserves I mean, honestly, he deserves prison time for sure.

Cas Piancey: With the amount of bullshit he's put into the system, I have no doubt he deserves some prison time, which is where I think I defer from some people.

Cas Piancey: Like, I do believe in prison to some degree.

Cas Piancey: I just don't think it's fair to give somebody a life sentence, basically.

Bennett Tomlin: And that's probably not what he's going to get here.

Bennett Tomlin: And now that he's made this plea, my understanding is that basically between now in sentencing, all he can do to improve his lot is to cooperate and help out the investigators and other prosecutors and stuff, which is fascinating.

Bennett Tomlin: And this gets into right at the end of this hearing today, they started talking about the potential forfeiture and how the US attorney expects that the total forfeiture for this case will be about 750,000,000, and that if this would have gone to trial, they would have presented co conspirator statements, which 1750,000,000 has to be the majority of assets that Crypto Capital Corp would have remaining at this point.

Bennett Tomlin: And the other interesting wrinkle there is that the Department of justice is co conspirator statements or is confident they could get co conspirator statements if this had gone to trial.

Cas Piancey: Do we know how much of their funds have been frozen across the multiple jurisdictions now?

Cas Piancey: Because I know there was a freeze in Portugal.

Cas Piancey: Right.

Cas Piancey: There was a freeze in Poland and there were freezes in America as well.

Cas Piancey: Right.

Bennett Tomlin: I want to say it was about 315,000,000 in America and like, at least 750,000,000 in total, I thought.

Bennett Tomlin: Because that's why the funds became inaccessible for BitFinex and Tether.

Bennett Tomlin: The 850,000,000.

Bennett Tomlin: Right.

Bennett Tomlin: Is because Cryptocurrency had had all these accounts frozen in the US, Portugal, and.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: Do we have any idea what this would mean for BitFinex now?

Cas Piancey: If this is forfeiture and this money goes.

Cas Piancey: I mean, forfeiture correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not a lawyer, but I presume that forfeiture means that money, any funds, any assets that the government can get their hands on, go straight to them.

Bennett Tomlin: My understanding is that other parties would have an opportunity to try to make a claim that those assets are rightfully theirs.

Bennett Tomlin: As we've said before, I imagine that might be difficult for BitFinex and Tether because there was no contract, there was no agreement.

Bennett Tomlin: And I imagine the documentation on both sides of this arrangement is sparse and may not contain all the necessary information to prove whose dollars or whose.

Cas Piancey: But it could be good for them.

Cas Piancey: Then it could be good for Bifonix, it could be great for Bifinix and Tether, and they could be getting their money back.

Bennett Tomlin: Or it's not.

Bennett Tomlin: Or it's not good for Bitfinex and Tether.

Cas Piancey: It might not be.

Cas Piancey: They might not get it back.

Cas Piancey: This is where the coin flip happens, right?

Cas Piancey: Either they get the money back and it's great for them, or they don't get any of the money back because they're not able to provide sufficient proof.

Bennett Tomlin: I'm less interested in $750,000,000 for a stable coin that has a market cap of 80 billion.

Bennett Tomlin: I think the consequences and things that other parties would be interested in at this point is less about just the money and more about who knows what and what is out there to know.

Cas Piancey: I think a lot of us still presume that Reggie Fowler is going to name names or whatever.

Cas Piancey: I think when I heard that 90 year sentence in my mind, I'm kind of thinking that they're not interested in working with him anymore, that they've had enough of him pulling their chain and kind of just having his way with them for so long to the point where they're just like, okay, we're just throwing the book at you.

Cas Piancey: We're done here.

Bennett Tomlin: And that's understandable, considering the last time, like when Reggie was initially contacted by federal investigators, he agreed to cooperate.

Bennett Tomlin: And as part of his agreement to cooperate, he was not supposed to disclose his cooperation to any of his co conspirators.

Bennett Tomlin: What Reggie instead decided to do was to immediately message his co conspirators.

Bennett Tomlin: So, yeah, I think that there's a good chance that you're right.

Bennett Tomlin: I just imagine he's going to be looking for any option he can to get that number as low as possible.

Cas Piancey: Maybe.

Cas Piancey: I just don't see him being very cooperative using our historical examples here.

Cas Piancey: So I think we're still kind of hopeful optimism when it comes to that.

Cas Piancey: I just don't think it's going to happen in that sense.

Cas Piancey: I think this hasn't been as much of a bombshell as we all expected.

Cas Piancey: It would be like, it makes some good points in the sense of there are consequences for doing this stuff, and the consequences are quite serious if you want to fuck around and find out.

Bennett Tomlin: But, yeah, bank fraud is a serious thing.

Cas Piancey: Meanwhile, we have Arthur Hayes and all these people from BitMEX and stuff being accused of whatever and reaching a plea bargain.

Cas Piancey: And I don't think any of those guys are going to do a day of jail time.

Cas Piancey: So it's quite interesting, like, the different dynamic at play here, because those guys, I don't know what they were being accused of.

Cas Piancey: Was it conspiracy to commit wire fraud or something?

Bennett Tomlin: I thought most of their violations centered around the Bank Secrecy Act.

Cas Piancey: Regardless, it's still interesting to me that those people, for whatever reason, are not prosecuted in the same way as Reggie.

Cas Piancey: And maybe Reggie wouldn't have been prosecuted this harshly if he had cooperated at the beginning.

Cas Piancey: Then again, Arthur Hayes went on the goddamn run, man.

Cas Piancey: It's not like he was exactly cooperating with authorities either.

Cas Piancey: But I don't know.

Cas Piancey: I guess maybe it's the lawyers you're able to hire.

Cas Piancey: I honestly just have no idea.

Bennett Tomlin: I imagine still having enough money to pay lawyers helps.

Bennett Tomlin: I imagine not lying about your cooperation helps.

Bennett Tomlin: And I imagine not blowing up a plea agreement during the plea hearing also probably helps.

Bennett Tomlin: And, like, it's not directly referenced in any of Reggie's charges, but even Manuel Molina Lee Crypto Capital Corp was arrested on suspicion of money laundering for the Colombian cartels using Crypto Capital Corp.

Bennett Tomlin: I sometimes feel as though some of the additional attention paid to Reggie Fowler is because of those potential links to the drug trade in Crypto Capital Corp, whereas that was not a key factor in Save the BitMax case.

Cas Piancey: Yeah, that's a really good point.

Cas Piancey: This has been a story that we've been following you and I for, like, four years now, fully four years now.

Cas Piancey: This has been one of the main stories we focused on.

Cas Piancey: Yes, exactly.

Cas Piancey: We were watching Reddit and finding out about Crypto Capital Corp as it cascaded and came down.

Cas Piancey: I guess I'm wondering at the end of this, there's still obviously fugitives at large, and we don't know what the fuck happened to Ivan Manuel Molina Lee.

Cas Piancey: No one seems to know what happened to him other than it seems like he's still in prison.

Cas Piancey: We still just don't have a clue.

Cas Piancey: What is your takeaway at the end of this?

Cas Piancey: How do you feel?

Cas Piancey: Does this feel like there's anything concrete about this?

Bennett Tomlin: Crypto Capital Corp was always, like, one of the most striking examples of criminality we had with the counterfeit bills, with the embezzling, with the second set of books, with one of these people getting picked up for the connections to the cartels.

Bennett Tomlin: And it was also always such a weird company to try to pin down between the, like, dozen different shell corporations, the nebulous relationship between Oz Yosef and even Manual Molina Lee, the, like period where Oz and Ravi were on the on the run, but you were still able to track her because she was still putting reviews out on Google.

Bennett Tomlin: So it has been this entirely strange story.

Bennett Tomlin: But when I was listening today, I was struck much like you were that when they said the 90 years and I listened to Reggie's reaction, I did not feel good.

Bennett Tomlin: It did not feel like a great moment, did not feel like a moment full of justice.

Bennett Tomlin: It was the best case scenario when you're going after criminals is that the criminal ends up in a pretty shitty situation, often with their life effectively ruined.

Bennett Tomlin: And yeah, we think they deserve it.

Bennett Tomlin: And Reggie did a lot of really bad things.

Bennett Tomlin: He's another one of those cases where it doesn't seem like you should be on his side, but it was still just really strange, like listening to him and hearing him break and listening to his story where he's talking about trying to start up this payment processor and stuff.

Bennett Tomlin: And I feel strange.

Bennett Tomlin: I don't have a good read on it.

Bennett Tomlin: It's weird.

Cas Piancey: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: I think people imagine where these heartless cynics that are just doing victory lapse when moments like this happen.

Cas Piancey: And like I said, we've been following this for so long, in some sense you'd hope that we'd be like feeling the we got it right.

Cas Piancey: But yeah, no, definitely not.

Cas Piancey: And it sucks because I feel the same way I do about other stuff, like the Terra thing that will come out after this.

Cas Piancey: But our Terra episode where I get so frustrated by these occurrences, obviously I think he should pay back as much money as possible to whoever he owes money to and then go to prison for a while, I don't know, maybe five years or something, and then have to work for the rest of his life outside of prison to pay people back that he still owes money to.

Cas Piancey: Like whether it's the government or creditors.

Cas Piancey: Right?

Cas Piancey: I don't know.

Cas Piancey: I'm conflicted for sure.

Cas Piancey: And I don't think that just throwing someone who does crimes like this in prison for a very long time suffices really, it just doesn't actually work in terms of making justice feel like it's been served.

Cas Piancey: I think about Madoff and like how he died in prison and in some sense I'm like, well, if any financial criminal deserved that, it's him.

Cas Piancey: But like, I don't know how much money they ended up getting back.

Cas Piancey: A lot of it was just gone and there's nothing you can do to make that better.

Cas Piancey: Besides, I don't know.

Cas Piancey: You hope that you could like in some sense release someone and make them pay their way back after it all happened, just force them to work for the people they've hurt.

Bennett Tomlin: Yeah.

Bennett Tomlin: And the complicating matter whenever you're discussing this in the United States is that our prison system is particularly punitive and cruel.

Bennett Tomlin: It is not uncommon for human rights organizations to Lodge complaints with the UN that United States prisons are killing an absurd number of people, which makes anyone going to prison in the US seem like it better be really fucking justified, you know?

Cas Piancey: Yeah.

Cas Piancey: And again, I don't think this dude is a violent criminal.

Bennett Tomlin: Maybe some small financial stuff in the past.

Bennett Tomlin: Me.

Cas Piancey: Yeah, he's done financial crimes, for sure.

Cas Piancey: I have no doubt about that before.

Cas Piancey: And up to the point that he was guilty of this stuff.

Cas Piancey: No doubt about it.

Cas Piancey: He's hurt a lot of people financially.

Cas Piancey: And absolutely I agree he should be punished for that.

Cas Piancey: It is hard to hear that it's teaching me some good stuff.

Cas Piancey: One, I think we learned this after a couple of years of following the tether stuff, but you just got to be patient.

Cas Piancey: None of this stuff moves at the speed you hope it's going to.

Cas Piancey: I think we've been frustrated with the SEC for years now.

Cas Piancey: And you hope that they get their acts together at some point and maybe they will.

Cas Piancey: Maybe they will.

Cas Piancey: Maybe they will catch up to all this stuff and get the people that they need to get.

Cas Piancey: But when they do or if they do, I hope that it doesn't amount to stuff like this.

Cas Piancey: I'd prefer to not feel horrible about criminals getting caught for doing criminal shit.

Cas Piancey: It'd be nice if we could walk away from this and just actually be like, well, that's excellent criminal caught who harmed people really financially in numerous ways.

Cas Piancey: A lot of people.

Cas Piancey: And isn't this good?

Cas Piancey: Now he's going to do some jail time, repent, learn how to be a better person, hopefully, and then go outside and pay back all the people he hurt.

Cas Piancey: But that is not how the American Justice system works.

Cas Piancey: That's not how the private prison system works here.

Cas Piancey: And maybe this is the Liberal part of me just coming out in full force, but it's a bummer.

Cas Piancey: But that's going to do it.

Cas Piancey: That's our update on the Reggie Fowler situation.

Cas Piancey: We'll have sentencing.

Cas Piancey: And what did they say?

Cas Piancey: August, I believe.

Cas Piancey: And that should be interesting because Reggie doesn't want he says he has a different theory than the government's theory.

Cas Piancey: So we're going to hear Reggie's theory about what has actually transpired and why he's hoping that they will not give him 90 consecutive years in prison.

Cas Piancey: And goddamn, I hope he figures out what that is going to be because I don't want him to do 90 years either.

Cas Piancey: So good luck, Reggie.

Cas Piancey: I never thought I would say that and mean it, but good luck, bud.

Cas Piancey: And so that was an episode.

Cas Piancey: I don't know what I'm supposed to say at the end of this now.

Cas Piancey: Bennett told me if it's not good, I am going to get in big trouble.

Cas Piancey: Big trouble.

Cas Piancey: I don't even know what that means anymore, man.

Cas Piancey: I'm working for free.

Cas Piancey: However many years until I get paid again.

Cas Piancey: Come on, man.

Cas Piancey: What is this?

Cas Piancey: What are we doing?

Cas Piancey: Leave a rating.

Cas Piancey: Leave a like leave a review, Bennett.

Cas Piancey: Give me a paycheck.

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