Shabang Banged to Rights
A computer programmer from Ohio who lied to federal agents about his involvement with an illegal online marketplace has been sentenced to prison.
Michael R. Weigand, also known by his online pseudonyms "Shabang" and “~Shabang~,” concealed his work for illicit black marketplace Silk Road when questioned by an IRS special agent and an FBI agent in January 2019.
Silk Road was used by several thousand criminals around the world to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of narcotics and other contraband. The site, which was founded and administered by Ross Ulbricht, aka "Dread Pirate Roberts" and "DPR," was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013.
Kirtland resident Weigand claimed that he had never opened an account on Silk Road, never transferred Bitcoin to the marketplace, and never performed any services for the Silk Road website.
In fact, the 56-year-old programmer and electrical engineer had been hired by Ulbricht's senior adviser, Roger Thomas Clark, to work on various aspects of the Silk Road business and laundered $75k in Silk Road proceeds after the site was shut down.
Together, Weigand and Clark worked to identify security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website. Weigand also supplied technological advice to Ulbricht and Clark, who used the online pseudonym "Variety Jones."
Despite working directly with Ulbricht and Clark, Weigand told federal agents that he had never communicated with anyone who used the online pseudonyms “Dread Pirate Roberts,” “DPR,” or “Silk Road” and didn't know the true identity of "Variety Jones."
Weigand also lied about a trip he took to London in late 2013, after Silk Road had been seized and its founder arrested. The programmer claimed he visited the English capital to talk about a marijuana seed business with Clark’s associate. In reality, he made the journey in order to remove Silk Road evidence from Clark’s London residence after receiving $20,000 in Bitcoin from Clark.
On September 21, Weigand pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements. On December 18, he was sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of supervised release.
Ulbricht is currently serving a double life sentence without parole, plus 40 years. Clark pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute narcotics, and his sentencing is currently pending.