KEENE — About a dozen activists associated with the Free Keene cooperative stood outside the Keene Police Department on Saturday to protest the recent raids of Free Keene leader Ian Freeman’s home and the arrests of the so-called Crypto Six.
Freeman, Aria DiMezzo, and Nobody, formerly known as Rich Paul, and others were arrested last week on federal money laundering charges. Freeman’s Leverett Street home was raided along with his Bitcoin operation, known as an “embassy,” on Marlborough Street.
“The government stole my boyfriend, and the Keene Police Department should not have agreed to work with the FBI on trumped-up, dumb-ass charges,” said Bonnie Kruse.
Kruse was sleeping in the Leverett Street home when Keene police, FBI agents and agents with the United State Treasury Department busted in to arrest Freeman and the others. Kruse, who was not charged, said she was handcuffed and detained for more than an hour during the raid.
“The Keene Police Department should have stayed out of it,” Kruse said. “I woke up to my roommate yelling and lots and lots of noise and I’m naked.”
She and Freeman grabbed robes as police and federal agents broke glass and broke in, shouting at them and terrifying her, she said.
“They made me walk in glass and they made me put shoes on with glass in them,” she said.
Kruse said Bitcoin is not a crime, and the charges are bogus.
The Leverett Street duplex is also headquarters for many of Freeman’s Free Keene organizations, including the Shire Free Church Monadnock.
Freeman is charged with laundering money using his churches and DiMezzo’s Reformed Satanic Temple as part of a multi-million scheme.
Freeman had $180,000 in cash in his home, according to authorities, who found a room filled with 26 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The home is close to a charter middle school.
Jason Gerhard from Northfield showed up at the protest to make his voice heard against what he sees as government overreach. The Keene Police Department’s cooperation with federal law enforcement is a step too far, Gerhard said.
“The government has just grown so humongous,” Gerhard said. “We don’t want the federal government in our lives.”
Freeman, 40, is charged with operating a multi-million dollar bitcoin exchange business that facilitated laundering money from scammers across the country.
Also arrested with Freeman, DiMezzo, 34, and Nobody, 52, were Colleen Fordham, 60, of Alstead, who operates the Mighty Moose Mart, adjacent to Freeman’s Bitcoin embassy, Renee Spinella, 23, of Derry, and Andrew Spinella, 35, also of Derry.
DiMezzo, Fordham and the Spinellas are free on their own recognizance. Nobody waived his right to a detention hearing and will remain in jail pending trial. Freeman is seeking to be released, and is awaiting an order from federal Judge Andrea Johnstone on his request to be released.
Chris Wade, a Free Keene blogger, said Freeman’s Bitcoin embassy will be reopening soon, though he declined to get into details. He said the charges against Freeman and the others don’t make sense.
“They’re bogus,” Wade said. “There was at least one part of it that was entirely fabricated.”
In 2014, Freeman’s home was raided and his computers seized by FBI as part of a child sex abuse images investigation. He was never charged in that investigation.
The Free Keene group was initially part of the Free State Project, an effort to get libertarian-leaning individuals around the country to move to New Hampshire and become embedded in the state’s political, economic and social structures.
The Free State Project disassociated itself from Freeman in 2014, citing his advocacy for lowering the age of consent laws.