DOJ seeks sentence of time served for TheBull
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted a letter at the New York Southern District Court regarding its proposal for the sentencing of Apostolos Trovias, also known as TheBull.
Trovias is expected to plead guilty pursuant to a plea agreement signed by the parties to one count of securities fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1348 and 2. For the following reasons, the DOJ says, a sentence of imprisonment within the applicable Guidelines range of 10 to 16 months, which, in light of the length of Trovias’s incarceration in Peru while awaiting extradition, would be satisfied by a sentence of time served, would be sufficient but not greater than necessary to comply with the purposes of sentencing.
Between in or about December 2016 and in or about August 2020, Trovias, using the pseudonym “The Bull,” operated an illicit business on the Dark Web trafficking in material, non-public information about publicly traded companies.
Trovias ran this business first on AlphaBay Marketplace and then, after AlphaBay was shut down in or about July 2017, on Dream Market, which likewise ceased operations in or about April 2019. Trovias offered Inside Information in exchange for payment in the form of cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, and was designing a marketplace for the exchange of Inside Information between insiders and traders.
Trovias’s illegal operation took three forms. First, Trovias sold stock tips, marketed as reflecting Inside Information, in the “Fraud > Other > Other” category on AlphaBay. Trovias sold these tips individually and in weekly and monthly subscription plans. Based on transaction information contained on AlphaBay’s servers, as well as purchases executed by undercover law enforcement agents, it appears that Trovias sold, at a minimum, dozens of individual tips, approximately three weekly subscriptions, and approximately three monthly subscriptions.
Trovias continued this conduct on Dream Market after AlphaBay was shut down.
Second, Trovias offered to sell, either in exchange for cryptocurrency upfront or for a percentage of the resultant trading profits, particular Inside Information, which he understood to be misappropriated, for others to trade on.
Third, Trovias began building his own website to facilitate the purchase and sale of Inside Information for use in stock trading. The website would function as an auction house for Inside Information, from which Trovias would take a commission and membership fees. Trovias described the website as intended to provide compensation to corporate insiders who shared Inside Information and thereby to motivate corporate insiders to misappropriate confidential information for the purpose of unlawful trading.
Based on this conduct, Trovias was charged on February 25, 2021 with one count of securities fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1348, 1349, and 2. On June 3, 2021, Trovias was charged in Indictment with one count of securities fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1348 and 2, and one count of concealment money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) and 2.
On May 14, 2021, Trovias, who is a Greek national, was arrested in connection with the Complaint in this case upon his entry to the Republic of Peru. Trovias was held in custody by the authorities in Peru during the pendency of his extradition proceedings. Trovias was extradited to the United States on March 25, 2022.
Shortly after his arrival in the United States, Trovias expressed interest in accepting responsibility in this case, and the parties entered into a plea agreement dated April 5, 2022. The parties anticipate that on April 14, 2022, Trovias will enter a plea of guilty, pursuant to that agreement, to Count One of the Indictment, charging Trovias with securities fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1348 and 2.