DoJ announced that MICHAEL R. WEIGAND, a/k/a ‘Shabang,’ a/k/a ‘~Shabang~,’ a/k/a’~s,’ a/k/a ‘s,’ pled guilty today to making false statements to federal agents about his involvement in, and his work for, the Silk Road online illicit black market, which was responsible for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars of narcotics and other contraband. WEIGAND’s false statements concealed his role in the operation of the Silk Road website.
According to the allegations in the Information, court filings, statements made in court, and evidence presented during the 2015 trial of Ross Ulbricht, Silk Roads founder and chief administrator: Ulbricht created Silk Road in approximately January 2011, and owned and operated the underground website until it was shut down by law enforcement in October 2013. Silk Road emerged as the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet at the time.
WEIGAND who is a computer programmer and electrical engineer worked with Roger Thomas Clark, the senior adviser to Ulbricht, on certain aspects of Silk Road. For instance, WEIGAND and Clark worked to identify technological vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website. WEIGAND also supplied technological advice directly to Clark and Ulbricht. In January 2019, WEIGAND was questioned by an IRS Special Agent and an FBI Special Agent. After being specifically warned that it is a federal crime to make a false statement to a federal law enforcement officer, WEIGAND attempted to cover up his involvement in Silk Road by falsely stating, among other things, that (1) he never opened an account on Silk Road; (2) he never used the online pseudonyms ‘Shabang’ or ‘~Shabang~’; (3) he never transferred Bitcoin to Silk Road; (4) he never exposed computer security vulnerabilities in the Silk Road website; (5) he never communicated with anyone who used the online pseudonym ‘Dread Pirate Roberts,’ ‘DPR,’ or ‘Silk Road’; (6) he never performed any services for the Silk Road website; and (7) he did not know the true identity of ‘Variety Jones’ (one of Clarks pseudonyms) on Silk Road. WEIGAND also 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 Clarks associate regarding a marijuana seed business. In fact, WEIGAND traveled to Clarks London residence and removed Silk Road evidence. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)