Sometime in early 2015, Zhe Wang got involved in the unregulated world of virtual currency – bitcoins – as a way to deal drugs.
The 20-year-old Queens resident and former engineering student at the University at Buffalo used bitcoins to buy and sell Xanax.
He admitted his guilt Tuesday in Buffalo federal court.
“How did you get involved in something like this?” U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara asked Wang.
“I ask myself those same questions every day,” he answered.
One of three charged, Wang pleaded guilty to two felony counts: money laundering and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
In his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Wang, a U.S. citizen who came here from China when he was 4, said he used $74,000 in bitcoins as part of his drug dealing last year.
Bitcoins, a digital currency with no central bank or government regulator, can fluctuate wildly in value but have become increasingly acceptable in some marketplaces.
Several online sources on Tuesday estimated the value of a bitcoin at about $584.
At the time of Wang’s indictment, prosecutors said it was the first bitcoin-related case in the region.