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NJ man admits paying hitman $20,000 in Bitcoin to silence teenage victim in child pornography case before seeking refund

John Michael Musbach via Salem County Jail

John Michael Musbach

A New Jersey man pleaded guilty to paying a hitman $20,000 in Bitcoin in an effort to murder a teenager and stop the child from testifying against him in a pending child pornography case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said John Michael Musbach, 31, a resident of Haddonfield, New Jersey, exchanged sexually explicit photos and videos with a then-13-year-old boy living in New York during the summer of 2015. When the boy’s parents found the images, they contacted police.

Musbach was subsequently arrested on child pornography charges, and the case was turned over to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office because Musbach was living in Atlantic County at the time of the arrest.

Prosecutors say while Musbach’s case was pending, he “repeatedly communicated with the administrator of a murder-for-hire website, which operated on the dark net, and which purported to offer contract killings or other acts of violence in return for payment in cryptocurrency, and arranged for a murder-for-hire.”

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Musbach asked the contract killer if the intended victim, then 14, was “too young to target,” and paid approximately 40 Bitcoin (worth $20,000) when the hitman said the boy’s age was not a problem, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice on Thursday.

When the website administrator asked for an additional $5,000 to secure the “hit,” Musbach tried to cancel the contract killing and sought a refund of his $20,000, prosecutors said. When Musbach refused the new demand, the website administrator revealed that the entire site was a scam and threatened to turn Musbach in to law enforcement.

Law&Crime reached out to Musbach’s attorney but did not receive an immediate response.

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The signed plea agreement hit the federal court docket on Feb. 2. A minute entry on the docket shows that U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez accepted the guilty plea the same day.

Musbach faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000.

The judge ordered Musbach into the custody of U.S. Marshals and ordered that he remain behind bars in the Salem County Jail until sentencing, which was scheduled for June 13.

[Image via Salem County Jail]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos