Feds: Alleged Crypto-Conspiracy Rapper Used Her Bengal Cat to Distract Agents


A Bengal cat seen displayed at the International Cat Show in - Credit: Hugo Amaral/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A Bengal cat seen displayed at the International Cat Show in – Credit: Hugo Amaral/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The recent arrest of Heather Morgan and her husband Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein had everything: a pair of serial entrepreneurs conspiring to launder $4.5 billion in stolen Bitcoin, Morgan’s side hustle as a rapper named Razzklekhan, and, of course, the ultimate Status Cat: a Bengal named Clarissa, which is apparently illegal to own in New York City, where the couple lived.

After the duo was arrested Tuesday in what Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco called “the department’s largest financial seizure ever,” the denizens of TikTok have just one question: What’s up with Clarissa?

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In a filing by the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Thursday, U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves opined that couple is a flight risk, and no conditions or “monitoring” will be sufficient to ensure they don’t become fugitives. Oddly enough, Clarissa played a key role in this assertion. When law enforcement executed their search of the couple’s apartment on Jan. 5, Morgan and Lichtenstein apparently attempted to use their cat to distract federal agents. First, they asked if they could leave the apartment while agents were doing their search, and bring their beloved Clarissa with them. Then, Morgan allegedly took the opportunity — under the pretenses of pulling the cat from under their bed — to try to lock her cellphone, which was on the nightstand. “Law enforcement had to wrest the phone from her hands,” reads the filing.

Agents also found even more phones under the bed, as well as SIM cards and a bag labeled “burner phone.” That incident helped convince Graves that the couple might be a flight risk. Plus, the document states that in addition to having access to hundreds of millions of virtual currency, the defendants also have access to fake identities and papers purchased on the darknet — and financial accounts in both Russia and Ukraine.

The pair had their initial appearance in the Southern District of New York on Feb. 8, where Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman ordered both defendants released on bond — $5 million for Lichtenstein, and $3 million for Morgan — subject to conditions including home incarceration, GPS monitoring, and restrictions on the use of Internet-connected devices. The government then filed a Motion for an Emergency Stay and a Review of Detention Order in the District Court for the District of Columbia. A detention hearing is now scheduled for Friday, and Morgan and Lichtenstein remain in custody.

As for Clarissa’s whereabouts? Neither the DOJ nor lawyers for the couple returned Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

Clarissa was a fixture on Morgan’s TikTok account, seen attacking a floppy hat as Lichtenstein looks on approvingly (inexplicably in his undies), battling her greatest foe, the TV, getting a Russian lesson from Morgan, and just generally destroying things, as Bengals are wont to do. In one particularly noteworthy clip, Lichtenstein explains how he samples Clarissa’s food before buying in bulk (“If it’s palatable to me, it will be palatable to her) and how the picky cat is currently only eating food from New Zealand, as is her right.

The comments of Morgan’s TikTok are currently flooded with folks worried about the well-being of the cat, whose breed (a hybrid of a domesticated cat and an Asian leopard cat) usually sells for thousands of dollars. “Is the cat going to be OK?” one user asks, which is pretty much the refrain in the comments section of any video featuring Clarissa. We now add our voice to the masses. Is Clarissa OK? We hope so.

Details have slowly been emerging about the couple, including that Morgan, 31, is a fan of making art out of prosthetic eyeballs, has written for Forbes, and decided to take up rapping due to an unnamed “professional mishap.” Of her alter ego, Razzlekhan, she refers to herself as “the infamous Crocodile of Wall Street,” who’s “more fearless and more shameless than ever before” and “taking on everyone from big software companies to healthcare to finance bros.”

Lichtenstein, 34, is a Russian-U.S. national who studied psychology at the University of Wisconsin, co-founded a MixRank, and, apparently, enjoys cat food.

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