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Men indicted for alleged Bitcoin heist conspiracy

Five men previously arrested for allegedly plotting to invade the home of a local teenager and steal nearly $800,000 in Bitcoin cryptocurrency have been indicted by the Superior Court of Forsyth County on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and robbery.

Trivette Adams, Matthew Schwartz, Jacob South, Michael McDermont and Justin Ellison were formally charged Monday, June 11, with counts of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery by force, according to an indictment obtained by the Forsyth County News.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Doug Rainwater told FCN previously that authorities were alerted to the plot in January 2018 when a report indicated, “that individuals from out of state were possibly traveling to Forsyth County to commit this robbery.”

Rainwater said that on Jan. 29 four suspects — Adams, Schwartz, South and McDermont — were located by the sheriff’s office narcotics unit in a local hotel, allegedly in possession of zip ties, latex gloves, duct tape and bandanas, but were released shortly after due to “insufficient evidence that a crime had been committed.”

“Continued investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit that night resulted in the connection of the four previously contacted suspects with the planned robbery,” Rainwater said. “Detectives secured arrest warrants for all four suspects and immediately set about attempting to locate them.”

Adams, 20, from Pflugerville, Texas, and McDermott, 18, from Rossville, California, were arrested Jan. 30 near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport attempting to leave the state by plane.

Rainwater said South, 21, from Norcross, and Schwartz, 18, from Hesperia, California, initially eluded capture in Georgia, but were located and captured in Chicago the next day.

Through investigations a fifth suspect, Ellison, 20, of Worth, Illinois, was identified and located in Illinois by Forsyth County detectives. Rainwater said Ellison was arrested May 11 after being extradited to Forsyth County by the United States Marshals Service.

The indictment states that the five men are accused of “communicating about the plan,” traveling to Forsyth County, acquiring “items to effectuate the robbery” including duct tape, zip ties and bandanas, and surveilling the victim’s residence “on multiple locations.”

“They knew the premises, knew the routines of the occupants,” Rainwater said. “They had everything figured out.”

He said that their intended victim reportedly had up to 80 Bitcoins, which could have been worth as much as $800,000.

According to court records, this case will be presided over by David L. Dickinson and will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Heather Dunn.

Jeffrey L. Cox, attorney for Ellison, declined to comment on the indictment for FCN.

Legal representatives for Ellison’s fellow defendants could not be reached for comment as of Wednesday evening, June 13.

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, is a decentralized digital currency that’s not bound or regulated by any bank. Cryptocurrencies can be exchanged online for cash. A growing number of services and products as common as fuel from a gas station can be bought using cryptocurrencies.