Alphabay Employee âTrappyâ Sentenced to 46 Months in Prison
Only months after the alleged owner of Alphabay had died in a prison cell in Thailand, the United States found and indicted the Alphabay staff member âTrappy.â On August 1, 2018, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May sentenced the Alphabay to almost four years in prison for conspiracy to commit access device fraud.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May sentenced Ronald L. Wheeler III 46 months in federal prison. After release, Wheeler will spend another three years on supervised release. Byung J. Pak, United States Attorney, and Samir Kaushal, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia filed a sentencing memorandum that suggested a sentence on the lower end of the sentencing guidelines range.
The United States Attorneys recommended a variance of one level for Wheeler’s expeditious entry of a guilty plea. Wheeler, during a change of plea in March, signed a plea agreement wherein he admitted committing the one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud in exchange for the prosecution sentencing recommendation. The agreement also required Wheeler’s full cooperation in any future investigations. Cooperation, according to court documents, could require producing all records related to a case; being available for interviews by law enforcement at his own expense; testifying in another trial; and aiding in an investigation without falsely implicating anyone.
U.S. Attorney Pakâs recommended a prison sentence of 46 months in a sentencing memorandum and explained why such a sentence was necessary, saying, âWheeler profited off the ruination of countless individualsâ lives by providing access to and promoting AlphaBay, a vast online criminal marketplace that offered stolen personally identifying information, hacking tools, and a cornucopia of illegal drugs, including Fentanyl.â Throughout the case, the prosecutors pointed to comments made by Wheeler on Reddit (as Trappy) as proof of Wheelerâs direct involvement with alpha02 aka Alexandre Cazes.
Even in the absence of drug charges, Judge May recommended Wheeler complete the governmentâs âinmate rehabâ known as Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) while in the Federal Bureau of Prisonâs custody. Inmates enrolled in a BOP RDAP program spend nine months housed in a facility or housing facility separated from the prison general population. Inmates in RDAP must take several substance abuse classes every day while maintaining a âjobâ in prison.
The judge also recommended the BOP place Wheeler in a facility near Chicago where his family lived. Once released, Wheeler mustâaccording to the terms of his supervisionâcomplete a mental health evaluation and a drug and alcohol treatment program (in some situations, RDAP/RSAP completion meets the treatment program requirements). Even though the government has already seized Wheeler’s 13 bitcoin and $27,500 in cash, the judge also ordered Wheeler forfeit (all of it) roughly $140,000 in assets.
As with the majority of successfully prosecuted cases involving the darknet, a government official said something that contradicted the government’s entire âgoing darkâ narrative. âThis case shows, once again, that criminals cannot hide in the shadows of the Dark Web,â U.S. Attorney Pak said. He congratulated law enforcement on ending this ânefariousâ criminalâs career as an Alphabay spokesperson.