MIAMI - A South Florida judge has ruled that the virtual currency bitcoin is not the same as money when it comes to crimes like money laundering.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler on Monday dismissed money laundering charges against Michell Espinoza. The Miami Herald reports that Espinoza was arrested after selling $1,500 in bitcoins to undercover detectives who said they would use them to buy stolen credit-card numbers.
Pooler ruled that bitcoin wasn't like cash because it is not backed by a government or a bank. The judge also determined Florida's money laundering laws are too vague to apply to bitcoin.
Prosecutors previously said Espinoza's case was among the first nationally involving bitcoin and money laundering.
A co-defendant previously pleaded guilty to acting as an unlicensed money broker.