Computer Programmer Sentenced to Prison for Making False Statements About His Involvement in “The Silk Road” Website | USAO-SDNY


Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MICHAEL R. WEIGAND, a / k / a “Shabang”, a / k / a “~ Shabang ~”, a / k / a “~ s”, a / k / a “s”, was sentenced to eight months in prison today for making false statements to federal agents about his involvement and work for the illicit black market online “Silk Road”, which was responsible for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in narcotics and other contraband. WEIGAND’s misrepresentation obscured its role in the operation of the Silk Road website. WEIGAND has previously pleaded guilty before US District Judge William H. Pauley III, who also imposed the sentence today.

Acting US lawyer Audrey Strauss said: “Michael Weigand has provided technology advice directly to the management of Silk Road, a secret online marketplace for criminal activity. He laundered the Silk Road proceeds and traveled overseas to remove evidence of Silk Road from the residence of a co-conspirator. Weigand subsequently lied to law enforcement, falsely claiming to have done nothing for Silk Road, and has now been sentenced to prison for this conscious lie. “

According to reports, documents filed by the courts, statements made in court and evidence presented in the 2015 trial of Ross Ulbricht, founder and chief administrator of Silk Road:

Ulbricht established Silk Road around January 2011, and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013. Silk Road has become the most sophisticated and extensive criminal market on the internet in the time. During its more than two and a half years of operation, Silk Road has been used by several thousand drug dealers and other illegal sellers to distribute hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services to over a hundred thousand buyers, and launder hundreds of millions of dollars from these illegal transactions. Silk Road has been specially designed to allow its users to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement through the use of the Tor network and ‘a Bitcoin-based payment system.

WEIGAND, computer programmer and electrical engineer, worked with Roger Thomas Clark, Ulbricht’s senior advisor, on some aspects of Silk Road. For example, WEIGAND and Clark worked to identify technological vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website. WEIGAND also provided technology advice directly to Clark and Ulbricht. After Silk Road closed in October 2013, WEIGAND laundered over $ 75,000 in Silk Road products. Additionally, in late 2013, the government revealed that it had been able to access content on Ulbricht’s laptop, which identified Clark as Ulbricht’s right-hand man; Shortly after this revelation, Clark transferred over $ 20,000 to WEIGAND in Bitcoin, and WEIGAND visited Clark’s London residence and removed the evidence from Silk Road.

In January 2019, WEIGAND was questioned by IRS and FBI special agents. After being specifically warned that it is a federal crime to make a false statement to a federal law enforcement official, WEIGAND attempted to cover up his involvement in Silk Road by falsely stating, among other things, that (1) he never opened a Silk Road account; (2) he never used the online pseudonyms “Shabang” or “~ Shabang ~”; (3) he never transferred Bitcoin to Silk Road; (4) he has never exposed any computer security breaches on the Silk Road website; (5) he never contacted anyone who used the online pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts”, “DPR” or “Silk Road” (that is to say, Ulbricht); (6) he has never provided services for the Silk Road website; and (7) he did not know the real identity of “Variety Jones” (one of Clark’s aliases) on Silk Road. WEIGAND also falsely stated that the purpose of his trip to London in late 2013, following the removal from the Silk Road website and Ulbricht’s arrest, was to meet with Clark’s business partner about a business. marijuana seeds; in fact, WEIGAND went to Clark’s London residence and removed the physical evidence from Silk Road.

In addition to his prison term, WEIGAND, 59, of Kirtland, Ohio, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Silk Road founder and operator Ross Ulbricht had previously been convicted of seven offenses following a jury trial: distributing drugs, distributing drugs via the Internet, conspiracy to distribute drugs, participating in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic false identity documents and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Ulbricht was sentenced primarily to life in prison and $ 183 million in confiscation.

Ulbricht senior adviser Roger Thomas Clark has pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute narcotics and his conviction is currently pending. Clark faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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Ms. Strauss commended the outstanding joint efforts of the Boston Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the New York and Washington Field Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations and the New York Service. city ​​police station. Ms Strauss also thanked the FBI office in Cleveland for their help.

This case is being pursued by the Office’s Complex Fraud and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Neff is in charge of the prosecution.


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