Australian Peter Nash admitted to helping operate the Silk Road online drugs marketplace
Australian Peter Nash, 42, on Friday pleaded guilty in a US court to charges of conspiracy to commit narcotics trafficking and money laundering, in connection with his role in the Silk Road online drugs marketplace.
Nash, a former senior manager at a support service for adults with mental disabilities, entered the plea in a Manhattan federal court about a month after Ross Ulbricht was convicted on US federal charges of being the mastermind of Silk Road – also known as “Dread Pirate Roberts”.
Silk Road used the Tor anonymisation network and accepted bitcoins as payment in order to evade law enforcement. It operated from at least 2011 until October 2013, when authorities siezed the site and arrested Ulbricht in a San Francisco public library.
During that time, it generated around $200 million (£135m) in sales, according to prosecutors. Nash said he earned as much as $30,000 for ten months of work as a forum moderator, using the funds to buy drugs.
Nash held the role from January 2013 to October 2013, and said he never knew the real identity of Dread Pirate Roberts, the man who hired him. He said he initially used the site to purchase drugs and to make “social connections”.
Charges were filed against Nash in December 2013 and he has been incarcerated ever since.
Life in prison
Authorities tracked down Nash via an August, 2013 report he compiled for Dread Pirate Roberts about site activity, according to prosecutors’ court documents, which said drugs including cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine were found in his possession.
“I deeply regret my conduct and any consequent harm I caused,” Nash told the court, according to Reuters. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced by a US District Court judge on 26 May.
Two alleged Silk Road administrators, Andrew Jones and Gary Davis, were indicted at the same time as Nash. Jones pleaded guilty in October and has helped authorities in the case, being named as a possible witness at Ulbricht’s trial, though he was never called. Davis is in Ireland awaiting extradition hearings.
Ulbricht, 30, was found guilty in February on drug trafficking, money laundering and computer hacking charges, and is expected to appeal.
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