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Columbia man pleads guilty to trying to buy deadly chemical online


A Columbia man pleaded guilty to trying to buy a deadly chemical on the "dark web," the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday.

Jason W. Siesser, 45, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Willie Epps Jr. to one count of attempting to acquire a chemical weapon and one count of aggravated identity theft, the office said in a news release Tuesday.

Siesser admitted to trying to get his hands on a chemical weapon twice between June 14 and Aug. 23, 2018, according to a news release. Siesser used a child's name to buy the chemical "in amounts capable of killing many people" using the digital currency Bitcoin, the release says.

The U.S. attorney's office did not name the chemical. Its name was redacted in an affidavit filed in the case, but the document references an American Council on Science and Health article on Karen Wetterhahn, a Dartmouth College professor who died after exposure to drops of dimethylmercury.

The news release says Siesser ordered two 10 ml units of the chemical on July 4, 2018, but did not receive them. He ordered three more units on Aug. 5, 2018 -- a quantity that could kill about 300 people, according to the release.

The release says a controlled delivery of an inert substance was sent to Siesser's home on Aug. 23, 2018. Federal agents then searched his home and found the inert substance and other deadly chemicals, according to the release.

The U.S. attorney's office says the search of Siesser's home also turned up writings about an apparent breakup which expressed a desire for the other person to die.

Siesser will have to serve at least five years in federal prison without parole.

A sentencing date has not been set.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


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