20-year-old gets 9 years in prison for trying to poison people all over the world
Jesse Korff, 20, of Labelle, Florida, could have served up to life in prison and a paid a $250,000 fine. US District Judge Anne Thompson in Trenton, New Jersey, however, handed down a 110-month sentence and a $1,000 fine. Korff will also serve five years of supervised release.
The defendant pleaded guilty last August to 10 counts related to the development, sale or smuggling of toxins, and one count of conspiring to kill a person in a foreign country.
US prosecutors said Korff sold two toxins, ricin and abrin, to people in London, Vienna, New Delhi and Ryomgand, Denmark whom he had met online. "Jesse Korff peddled his poison in a shadowy, online network favored by cyber criminals," US Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.
Korff was known as "Snowman840" on the underground marketplace Black Market Reloaded, which functions similarly to the now defunct Silk Road. He advertised the poisons, which he manufactured himself, as "top of the line ricin poison" that would cause someone to "die a horrible death," the Orlando Sentinel reported. He also provided prospective purchasers with information about dosages necessary to kill people of varying weights as well as how to administer the toxin without raising suspicion, according to the FBI.
Prosecutors said the shipments included one to a London woman who allegedly intended to poison and kill her mother, who according to press reports was a magistrate in that city. The woman, a Barclays Banker named Kuntal Patel, allegedly fantasized about killing her mother, who broke up her engagement, after watching "Breaking Bad." The show notably features ricin as a plot element.
Patel, however, claims she never actually intended to kill her mother and that she ordered the poison for an attempt on her own life. While a jury cleared her of attempted murder charges, she'll spend three years in jail for possession of a deadly toxin - the first case tried under the Biological Weapons Act.
Korff was arrested in January 2014 while preparing to ship a second dose to Patel, after the first proved ineffective, prosecutors said. An undercover FBI agent posed as the buyer, and Korff disguised the toxins in candles and used the US Postal Service to ship them internationally, according to the FBI.
David Holman, a federal public defender representing Korff, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is U.S. v. Korff, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 14-cr-00471.
(Reuters reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Reuters editing by Frances Kerry)
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