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~Shabang~ Sentenced to Eight Months in Prison

A District Court judge sentenced Michael Weigand, known as “~Shabang~” on the Silk Road darkweb market, to eight months in prison for lying providing technical assistance to the administrators of the marketplace.

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the eight-month sentence. United States District Judge William H. Pauley III, issued the sentence and previously accepted Weigand’s guilty plea.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss:

“Michael Weigand supplied technological advice directly to the leadership of Silk Road, a secret online marketplace for criminal activity. He laundered Silk Road proceeds and traveled overseas to remove Silk Road evidence from a co-conspirator’s residence. Weigand subsequently lied to law enforcement, falsely claiming to have done nothing for Silk Road, and has now been sentenced to prison for that knowing falsehood.”

According to court documents, Weigand worked as a computer programmer for the founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, as well as Ulbricht’s senior advisor, Roger Clark. Weigand identified vulnerabilities in the marketplace and provided technological advice directly to Clark and sometimes to both Clark and Ulbricht. The market’s administration paid Weigand $75,000 for his work and advice.

Prosecutors said that Weigand laundered the Bitcoin he had earned while working for the Silk Road marketplace. During the investigation, law enforcement learned that Clark had transferred more than $20,000 to Weigand. Weigand then traveled to London in an attempt to remove evidence related to Silk Road from Clark’s house in London.

In January 2019, Special Agents with the FBI and IRS questioned Weigand about his involvement with Clark and Ulbricht. They warned Weigand that making a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer was a federal crime. Prosecutors said that Weigand made the following false statements:

  • he never opened an account on Silk Road;
  • he never used the online pseudonyms “Shabang” or “~Shabang~”;
  • he never transferred Bitcoin to Silk Road;
  • he never exposed computer security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website;
  • he never communicated with anyone who used the online pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” “DPR,” or “Silk Road” (i.e., Ulbricht);
  • he never performed any services for the Silk Road website; and
  • he did not know the true identity of “Variety Jones” (one of Clark’s pseudonyms) on Silk Road.
  • he falsely stated that the purpose of his trip to London in late 2013, following the takedown of the Silk Road website and arrest of Ulbricht, was to meet with Clark’s associate regarding a marijuana seed business.

Weigand was sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of supervised release for his crime of lying to federal law enforcement.