Ex-Coinbase employee guilty of insider trading asks for shorter sentence

The ex-Coinbase employee who pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in February, Ishan Wahi, has asked the court to sentence him to just 10 months in prison, rather than the guideline sentence of 37 to 46 months.

Wahi has been under intense media scrutiny since his arrest, in what is widely regarded as the first charges of insider trading in the crypto industry. In a 55-page document submitted late Tuesday night, Wahi and his lawyers have requested that the court consider his background and circumstance in an upcoming sentencing hearing scheduled for May.

“It is respectfully submitted that given Ishan’s accomplishments, established history of good works, and acceptance of responsibility all weigh in favor of, at most, a moderate sentence of incarceration,” the request reads.

“The Defendant respectfully submits that a sentence of no more than 10 months incarceration, together with several other consequences of Ishan’s conviction, would impose a sufficient, but not excessive, punishment for the crimes of conviction.”

The lengthy document details Wahi’s consistent acts of kindness to friends and family, as well as his success in co-founding non-profit TheTeacherApp, which developed educational tools for teachers in India during the pandemic.

  • Wahi took a considerable paycut upon taking the non-profit job, earning $7,000 annually according to the document — just 6% of his previous salary at PayPal.
  • The 32-year-old eventually landed a job at Coinbase, where he tipped off his brother Nikhil Wahi and friend Sameer Ramani about a cryptocurrency that would soon be listed on the exchange, resulting in the trio making a tidy profit.
  • Nikhil Wahi is currently serving a 10 month prison sentence for the crime.

When Ishan Wahi submitted a guilty plea, he told the court that he had made a grave error that has deeply impacted his family and friends. This new document outlines the extent to which Wahi has been affected by his decision to share the sensitive information, which he says was “the worst decision in [his] life.”

Coinbase insider trading sentence leaves Wahi at risk for deportation

“He has lost his confidence, his peace of mind, and his capacity for joy and is greatly depressed,” Ishan’s grandmother wrote in a letter that has been quoted in the document, along with numerous others by friends, colleagues, and family. “He is seeking the help he needs to slowly mentally recover through therapy but there is a long road ahead to rebuild his life.”

Read more: Coinbase pitches “inflation-proof” flatcoins against struggling USDC

Indeed, the high-profile case against the ex-Coinbase employee has understandably brought deep distress for Wahi. The request for a shorter sentence details financial difficulties due to authorities freezing his accounts, as well as psychological damage during his time in jail. But Wahi’s need for a shorter sentence largely boils down to his immigration status.

“As a non-citizen, Ishan’s conviction will result in him losing status and becoming deportable,” the document explains. Wahi will be temporarily held in ICE custody upon sentencing, but could be released while he applies for a discretionary waiver of deportation, as long as his sentence is less than a year in prison.

Any longer and the 32-year-old must stay in immigration custody while his waiver is being processed. If he is deported, his long-term relationship with his girlfriend is in jeopardy, the request explains.

Wahi’s sentencing is schedule for May. Meanwhile, his therapist Dr. Kimberly MacEachern describes him as an “engaged and motivated therapy patient” with a “good prognosis for living with meaningful intention as a contributing member of society.”

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