Judge denies former OpenSea employee's motion to dismiss fraud case

Quick Take

  • A judge has denied a motion to dismiss the wire fraud charges against former OpenSea employee Nathaniel Chastain.
  • The judge called the defense’s argument in its motion to dismiss “wholly without merit.”

A judge in the Southern District of New York has denied a motion to dismiss the wire fraud charges against former OpenSea employee Nathaniel Chastain.

A grand jury indicted Chastain after the former OpenSea head of product allegedly purchased and sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs) he knew would be listed on the marketplace's homepage – a scheme the DOJ alleges was akin to turning a profit using insider information.

Chastain filed a motion to dismiss in August, arguing NFTs constitute neither securities nor commodities and that wire fraud charges alleging front-running require trading in those categories. 

District Judge Jesse Furman formally disagreed in a memorandum and order today, denying the motion to dismiss the indictment and saying the argument "is wholly without merit." 

"No court has suggested, let alone held, that conviction in such a case requires trading in securities and commodities," Furman wrote.

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