Silk Road Programmer Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements

Alert placed on the Silk Road 2.0's homepage following its seizure by the U.S. government and European law enforcement. (Credit: FBI)

Silk Road programmer Michael R. Weigand pleaded guilty Monday to concealing his involvement in the once-sprawling darknet market’s backend operations.

  • Prosecutors alleged that Weigand, 56, worked to shore up Silk Road’s vulnerabilities during its heyday and provided tech advice to site leadership. He also removed evidence from a London flat in 2013, prosecutors claimed.
  • But with the infamous bazaar for illicit drugs and illegal services now nearly 7 years’ defunct, prosecutors in the hard-charging Southern District of New York chose to hit Weigand for the cover-up, instead of the crime.
  • Weigand admitted that he lied to IRS and FBI special agents in January 2019 about his role on Silk Road, his pseudonym, his use of bitcoin on the site and his interactions with convicted Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht’s online identity, Dread Pirate Roberts.
  • The charge comes with a maximum statutory five-year prison term. Sentencing is scheduled for mid-December. No matter the outcome, it will fall well short of Ulbricht's life sentence.
  • The charges may serve to illustrate how bitcoin’s enduring public ledger makes hiding one’s transaction history from law enforcement officials nearly impossible, even if they begin their search years after the transactions in question take place.

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