- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A New Jersey man who made upwards of $70,000 a month by selling heroin over the Internet and later testified against the administrator of the online drug den has been sentenced to 2½ years in prison.

Michael Dutch, 41, was sentenced in New York City on Tuesday by Judge Katherine Forrest nearly two years after he was arrested outside of a rural post office while attempting to mail 25 packages of heroin to users of the “Silk Road” website.

Mr. Dutch began cooperating with authorities immediately after his arrest, it was later revealed, and in January he testified with regards to his role with Silk Road during the trial of the website’s administrator, Ross Ulbricht.

Before being shut down by law enforcement in October 2013, Silk Road served as an online marketplace for all sorts of contraband, including hard drugs and hitman services, and generates roughly $200 million in illicit drug sales during a two-year span, according to authorities. The Silk Road site was only accessible using specialized browsing software, and users conducted business not with cash, with the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

Police arrested Mr. Dutch and Mr. Ulbricht on separate sides of the country in tandem with the seizure of the website, and the IT consultant-turned-heroin supplier soon after pleaded guilty. In January, the government secured a conviction against Mr. Ulbricht that yielded a sentence of life imprisonment.

While testifying earlier this year in the case against the Silk Road administrator, Mr. Dutch said he had started selling heroin on the underground website to bankroll his own addiction. Before long, he said, he was making between $60,000 to $70,000 a month — more than 10 times what he was earning as an IT consultant.

Mr. Dutch had faced between five and 40 years in federal prison had he not agreed to cooperate with investigators. He apologized in court for his actions on Tuesday, and said to Judge Forrest that “This path has been extremely painful, but necessary, and truly I am thankful for it,” Reuters reported.

Although Mr. Dutch was handed a 2½-year sentence, he will be credited with the 21 months he has spent in custody following his arrest. Attorneys for Mr. Ulbricht, meanwhile, are currently appealing their client’s conviction and life sentence.

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