Hello. It is great to hear from real freedom lovers. My wife Karen and I enjoyed our trip from Arizona to New Hampshire and to Keene and enjoyed all our visits with everyone. All the best to all.
It was great meeting you at the courthouse. Your speech in defense of Ian was very eloquent.
Welcome to the forum!
David Hathaway’s In-person Testimony to Judge Joseph LaPlante at Ian Freeman’s Sentencing Hearing on October 2, 2023
[The following is based on David Hathaway’s notes]
Thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of Ian Freeman. My name is David Hathaway and I am currently the elected Sheriff of Santa Cruz County, Arizona. I have worked in law enforcement for 31 years. Most of that time has been as a Special Agent with the D.E.A., the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. I started my time with D.E.A. by attending the joint F.B.I. / D.E.A. Academy in Quantico, Virginia in the 1980s. I worked in eight different offices during my time in D.E.A. My last four assignments with D.E.A. were supervisory assignments. I worked as the Agent in Charge of various geographic offices, both domestic and foreign.
I have testified as the case agent in many federal sentencing hearings, many federal trials, many federal motions hearings, and have testified to many federal grand juries. But, this is the first time I am testifying in federal court on behalf of a defendant.
I would like to summarize a written statement that I sent to the court.
Honorable Judge LaPlante, as an elected Sheriff and former Supervisory Special Agent with the D.E.A., I would like to talk to you about Ian Freeman, an individual who is being sentenced today in your court. I would like to tell you how he has impacted my life positively as an advocate for freedom and the American dream. Mr. Freeman is a non-violent individual who has dedicated his life to helping his fellow man by promoting peace, free trade, capitalism, and individual liberty. He embodies the founding spirit of this country. My life experiences and my career have made me abundantly aware of the importance of individual liberty and voluntary relationships between individuals. Mr. Freeman is an advocate of peaceful free market solutions to the challenges we face in daily life.
Mr. Freeman respects all people and is not a risk to society. Please consider sentencing Mr. Freeman to time served or to a non-punitive sentence in the current case at hand. He is an encouraging voice on the airwaves for those of us who also strive for free friendly relations with our fellow man. Thank you for considering those written comments and the comments I am making today.
I know that your honor, and every other member of the judiciary, is hesitant to make case law in areas where Congress has not acted. No matter how this case is charged, this case will be seen by the media and by other members of the judiciary as a Bitcoin case. If Mr. Freeman is sentenced to a lengthy punitive sentence, that action will very likely create a precedent in an area where Congress has not acted. If that happens, a long sentence may become a precedent in Bitcoin cases not only in the First Circuit, but in other federal circuits and judicial districts.
Congress has not legislated concerning Bitcoin. If they do, what will they consider it to be? Will Congress consider Bitcoin to be money? Will Congress consider Bitcoin to be a commodity or a security or something else? Will Congress consider Bitcoin to be benign requiring no government control or to be something nefarious? Maybe Congress will have no interest in Bitcoin. But, I know that this court, your honor, will want to proceed with caution in an area where Congress has not spoken due to the separation of powers in the United States. Under this system, as you know, the legislative branch is intended to make the laws, the judicial branch is intended to apply the laws to cases covered by those laws, and the executive branch is intended to enforce the laws. Considering that only Congress has the authority to make laws under this system, the judiciary has always tried to avoid “legislating from the bench” as a fundamental principle in areas where Congress has not spoken. Even the federal regulatory agencies have not attempted to define or regulate Bitcoin.
As a contrasting example, let me point to an area that I am very familiar with where Congress has legislated extensively: Title 28 of the United States Code, “The Controlled Substances Act.” I am very familiar with this body of legislation based on my time in D.E.A. In this area, Congress has spoken in great detail. Judges may even feel that their hands are tied and that their discretion has been severely limited when it comes to federal drug law. Congress has let its will be known by enacting such things as minimum mandatory sentences with different thresholds and sentencing categories for different drug quantities and different drug types. There are enhancements for drug offenses including enhancements for use of a firearm or use of a minor to facilitate a drug offense and for conducting drug transactions in school zones. There are “leadership” points for sentencing and asset forfeiture provisions based on the underlying statutes categorizing drug proceeds as illegal income.
Also, with controlled substances, there has been significant regulatory action from agencies who have been granted regulatory powers by Congress. Agencies like D.E.A. and the F.D.A. have such powers relating to controlled substances and have spoken extensively. An example is the federal drug schedules that D.E.A. produces for different categories of controlled substances.
So, in short, Congress and regulatory agencies have acted extensively in certain areas; drugs being one example. But, not in the realm of Bitcoin or blockchain based technologies. To amplify this point and to point out Ian Freeman’s efforts in this area, Ian, and others unrelated to Ian who sold Bitcoin, sought out legal opinions from attorneys on this subject. Ian and the others who made similar efforts were advised that there were no legal requirements concerning Bitcoin sales. Such persons are now surprised at requirements that have popped up seemingly after the fact.
Your honor, you were not the trier of fact in this case as we know. It was the jury; and the jury has spoken and handed down convictions. But many layperson jurors and even many persons in society at large and many in the courtroom today do not have a full understanding of Bitcoin and the blockchain technology it is based on. A typical juror is likely to be ignorant of the nature of Bitcoin. They may merely accept on face value what they are told by the prosecution about a poorly understood and, as yet, unregulated, technology.
In another area, and with all due respect, I recognize that an aggressive U.S. Attorney’s Office and aggressive federal law enforcement agencies have the ability to obtain indictments and to compel cases to come into federal court – even cases that do not clearly fall under the purview of specific legislation enacted by Congress. In this instance, the determination of guilt was made by a jury and now the sentencing decision is in front of this court today. I know your honor, that the court today will recognize the potential for today’s sentencing to create a precedent for other courts when dealing with Bitcoin related issues.
To finish up, I would like to give a simple schoolyard analogy.
Imagine a bully that approaches another student as his victim on the playground. The bully asks his victim, “Do you have your lunch money today?” The victim responds, “Yes, I do.” The bully then instructs his victim to use his lunch money to buy a candy bar from someone else and for the victim to then bring the candy bar to the bully. In this simple thought experiment, Ian Freeman is the guy selling the candy bar, not the bully.
[Note: At this point, Judge LaPlante asked Sheriff Hathaway what Hathaway thought, based on his law enforcement experience, about the candy bar salesman “giving the candy bar to the bully.” Sheriff Hathaway explained that in the analogy it would be equivalent to the innocent candy bar salesman being asked by the buyer (later identified as a victim) to put the candy bar in the victim’s school locker to be consumed later with no knowledge of a bully being involved. (This analogy would pertain to the example of a Bitcoin wallet as the ultimate desired destination for the Bitcoin as articulated by the candy bar buyer who was later identified as a victim after the seemingly benign transaction.)]
[End of Hathaway in-person testimony.]
Adding your speech to my “call talk radio about” list…thank you Sheriff.