US senator arrested on charges of crypto mining rig deception

A U.S. senator has been arrested on charges of insurance fraud, in part relating to claims around the theft of cryptocurrency mining equipment.

Georgia state Senator Michael Williams handed himself over to authorities over allegations he had lied about computer equipment used to mine cryptocurrency from his campaign offices in Gainesville, following an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Gainesville Times reported.

Dating back to May 2017, Williams’ campaign manager had claimed that $300,000 worth of equipment had been stolen, which were being used in conjunction with private servers belonging to Williams’ business to mine crypto for campaign funds.

It is alleged that in the process, Williams had misled authorities, including the police, as well as insurers paying out on the theft.

Handing himself in on December 26, Williams was reported to have been released the same day with a $10,000 bond bail, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution report.

Senator Williams’ attorney, A.J. Richman, denied the lawmaker had been involved in any wrongdoing. Richman told news outlets, “Mr. Williams did not do this. We are not really apprised of their evidence yet. While they haven’t disclosed that, I am sure they will soon. But at this point, we don’t know what if they say we did other than what the indictment says.”

The charges are particularly significant in light of Williams’ role in Senate Bill 464, a bill he co-introduced which would oblige the state to “accept as valid payment for taxes and license fees any cryptocurrency, including but not limited to Bitcoin, that uses an electronic peer-to-peer system.”

The bill aimed to bring Georgia in line with other states that have pioneered accepting cryptocurrency for tax and other payments. In Arizona, a bill featuring similar wording was passed by lawmakers, while legislative efforts in Wyoming were introduced to exempt cryptocurrency holdings from state property taxes.

Williams rose to prominence after his campaign to become governor of the state, here he toured in a ‘deportation bus’ to underline his hardline approach to illegal immigration. Despite his high profile campaigning, Williams finished fifth of five with a little over 4.9% of the vote.

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