A New Jersey man faces up to 10 years behind bars after he hired a hitman and paid $20,000 in Bitcoin to kill a 14-year-old, prosecutors said.
John Michael Musbach, 31, of Haddonfield, pleaded guilty in Camden federal court Thursday to an indictment charging him with one count of knowingly and intentionally using and causing another to use a facility of interstate and foreign commerce, the internet, with the intent that a murder be committed, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said.
Musbach is accused of exchanging sexually explicit photographs and videos with the then-13-year-old victim living in New York in the summer of 2015, prosecutors said.
The victim’s parents found out about the inappropriate exchange and contacted police.
Musbach was identified in the case and in March 2016 was arrested on child pornography charges and a search warrant of his residence, then in Galloway, New Jersey, was conducted.
Prosecutors said that Musbach had decided to have the victim killed so the minor could not testify against him in the pending criminal case.
From May 7 to May 20, 2016, he “repeatedly communicated with the administrator of a murder-for-hire website” on the dark web, which offered contract killings in return for cryptocurrency payment.
Using that website, Musbach arranged for a murder-for-hire.
“Musbach asked if a 14-year-old was too young to target, and upon hearing that the age was not a problem, paid approximately 40 bitcoin (approximately $20,000 at the time) for the hit,” the release said.
He then “repeatedly” messaged the website’s administrator following up and asking when the hit would happen.
When the administrator pressed for an additional $5,000 to secure the hit, Musbach tried to cancel the transaction and asked for a refund of his $20,000.
But the website administrator then revealed the site was a scam and threatened to expose Musbach’s information to law enforcement.
Musbach faces a maximum potential penalty of a decade in prison and a fine “of the greater of $250,000, twice the gross profits to Musbach or twice the gross losses to the victim of his offense.”
His sentencing is scheduled for June 13.
Rocco C. Cipparone Jr, an attorney for Musbach, said in a statement: “Mr. Musbach decided to put this matter behind him and accepted his responsibility without a trial."
"The more limited sentencing range negotiated in this plea agreement appropriately limits Mr. Musbach’s sentencing exposure for reasons which will be expounded upon at sentencing. We now look forward to putting forth in context at sentencing, detailed mitigating information, and positive information, about Mr. Musbach,” he said.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com