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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Purchase Chemical Weapon on the Dark Web

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Missouri, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to attempting to purchase a chemical weapon, capable of killing hundreds of people, on the dark web with Bitcoin.

Jason William Siesser, 45, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr. to one count of attempting to acquire a chemical weapon and one count of aggravated identity theft.

By pleading guilty today, Siesser admitted that he attempted to acquire a chemical weapon on two occasions between June 14 and Aug. 23, 2018, and that he did not attempt to acquire that chemical weapon for a peaceful or protective purpose. He provided a shipping address in the name of a juvenile, whose identity he used without authorization, to place the orders for a highly toxic chemical in amounts capable of killing many people. Siesser paid for the chemical weapon with the digital crypto currency known as Bitcoin.

Siesser ordered two 10ml units of the chemical on July 4, 2018, and paid with Bitcoin. The seller did not ship the chemical weapon at that time. Siesser continued to contact the seller. On July 19, 2018, Siesser told the seller that, “I plan to use it soon after I receive it.”

Siesser ordered three 10ml units of the chemical weapon on Aug 5, 2018. Siesser again paid for the order with Bitcoin (the equivalent of $150) and provided a shipping address in the name of a juvenile. This quantity of the chemical weapon has the capacity to kill approximately 300 people.

A controlled delivery of a package that contained an inert substance was made to Siesser’s residence on Aug. 23, 2018. Siesser believed the package contained the chemical weapon he had ordered, signed for the package, and took it inside the residence.

Law enforcement officers then executed a search warrant at Siesser’s residence. On top of a shelf in the garage, officers located the inert substance Siesser believed to be a chemical weapon. Officers also located two separate and seemingly unopened shipping boxes on the shelf next to it. They contained approximately 10 grams of cadmium arsenide, a toxic compound, which
can be deadly if ingested or inhaled; approximately 100 grams of cadmium metal;
and approximately 500 ml of hydrochloric acid. An invoice for these products
showed they had been ordered together on March 30, 2018.

Writings located within the home articulated Siesser’s heartache, anger, and resentment over
a breakup, and a desire for the person who caused the heartache to die.

Under federal statutes, Siesser is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Casey. It was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Columbia, Mo., Police Department.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Updated August 4, 2020