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The U.S. Department of Justice announced the sentencing of Jessica Leeann Sledge of Pelahatchie, Mississippi, to ten years in prison on Monday for allegedly attempting to hire an assassin through a darkweb website using Bitcoin.
Sledge was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 120 months in prison for "using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire," according to United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI's Jackson Field Office.
The DOJ's filing says that Sledge attempted to contact an assassin online between September 2021 and November 2021 and sent three payments using Whatsapp totaling $10,000 in Bitcoin on October 4, 9, and 10 of last year.
Unbeknownst to Sledge, the "hitman" she was in contact with was a federal agent who met Sledge in Brandon, Mississippi, on November 1, 2021, where she was arrested and admitted to her role in the murder-for-hire plot.
In addition to a ten-year prison sentence, Sledge was fined $1,000 and will spend three years on supervised release following the completion of her prison term.
Sledge's payments in October 2021 were made when Bitcoin was priced at around $54,771. With the crypto crash this Spring, the BTC would be worth around $5,800 today if law enforcement held onto it.
Bitcoin's use in crime continues to be a cudgel regulators use to justify a ban on cryptocurrencies. Last year, Nelson Replogle of Tennessee allegedly paid a hitman he found on a murder-for-hire website to kill his wife using Bitcoin from his Coinbase wallet.
According to the FBI filing, Replogle sent the would-be killer Bitcoin, a description of his wife's car, and a time when she would take their pet to the veterinarian.
The FBI obtained the transaction details from Coinbase and through a subpoena to Replogle's internet provider, AT&T confirmed the connection had come from Replogle's home. At which time a warrant was issued for his arrest. Replogle's wife was unharmed.