Silk Road Vendor Pleads Guilty – A Columbus man is facing prison time after pleading guilty in New York this week to attempting to cash in on more than $19 million in illegal online drug sales in a case involving cryptocurrencies exchanged on the so-called “dark web.”
Hugh Brian Haney, 61, admitted to felony counts of concealment money laundering and engaging in a financial transaction in criminally derived property. The charges carry maximum prison sentences of 20 years and 10 years, respectively.
“Peddling drugs on the dark web does not provide anonymity forever, as Hugh Haney can attest,” Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a released statement following Haney’s guilty plea in federal court in Manhattan Wednesday.
According to court documents, Haney sold illicit drugs online through a dark web site known as “Silk Road,” as part of a narcotics vendor group named “Pharmville.” Sales through the site were completed using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin rather than direct cash exchanges.
Investigators shut down Silk Road in 2013, and Haney’s involvement as a “high-ranking member” of Pharmville eventually came to light. According to documents, investigators gathered computers and other evidence of the activities during a warranted search of Haney’s home. Among other files was a saved “to-do list” referencing Silk Road, Pharmville and “large-scale narcotics trafficking.”
According to court documents, over a period of a few days in early 2018, Haney transferred and exchanged Bitcoins for more than $19 million derived from the drug sales.
Haney was arrested in Ohio in July and transferred to New York authorities. He faces sentencing early next year.
Full Statement by USAO about Silk Road Vendor Pharmville can be found here