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Bitcoin, ransomware fraudster Anthony Murgio of Tampa sentenced to prison

Tampa's Anthony Murgio, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5-1/2 years in prison for running a bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud.

"I screwed up badly and made serious mistakes and misjudgments," a weeping Murgio told U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan at his sentencing in Manhattan Tuesday, according to Bloomberg reporting.

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Murgio admitted in January that he ran for Gery Shalon, the self-described founder of a sprawling criminal enterprise that hacked at least nine companies including JPMorgan Chase, E*Trade and Dow Jones & Co. Prosecutors said the unregistered business sold bitcoins that were used in illegal online transactions and as payment in ransomware attacks.

"Mr. Murgio led an effort based on ambition and greed" and constructed on a "pyramid of lies," Nathan said during the sentencing hearing.

The judge set a Sept. 1 hearing to determine the amount of forfeiture, fines and restitution Murgio must pay. He remains free on bail.