The US Department of Justice has convicted Jessica Leeann Sledge. An unfamiliar name, but still someone with a lot on her plate. The woman from Pelahatchie (Mississippi) will receive a ten-year prison sentence because she wanted to hire an assassin using bitcoin.
Sledge was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 120 months in prison for "using 'interstate commerce facilities' to commit murder for hire". That's what attorney Darren J. LaMarca writes.
According to the dossier, Sledge tried to contact a hit man online between September 2021 and November 2021. She sent bitcoin payments to the man three times. The total amount involved was $10,000.
However, without Sledge's knowledge, the "hitman" was an undercover agent. She was therefore indirectly and unknowingly in contact with an agent.
The woman was arrested in November last year. In addition to a ten-year prison sentence, Sledge was fined $1,000. She will also be placed under supervision for three years from the time she is released.
The bitcoin payments (totalling $10,000) were made when the largest crypto-currency cost about $55,000. The payment is now still worth about $5,800 (if the law enforcement officials did not sell it themselves).
It seemed like a convenient move: a bitcoin payment that no one can stop. Typically, bitcoin is seen as a privacy-friendly payment method.
However, all payments are forever stored in the blockchain, so any future mistake could be fatal. Money flows can be analysed and even mixers do not appear to be watertight. Incidentally, a lightning payment provides a completely different kind of privacy, due to the onion structure of the network.
In this case, privacy did not matter at all: the counterparty was an agent himself.